Dingy Swallowtail butterfly - Papilio anactus 


This page contains information and pictures about Dingy Swallowtail Butterflies in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Wingspan 60mm
The butterflies are also called Dainty Swallowtails and sometimes Small Citrus Butterflies. They are the smallest swallowtail butterflies in Australia. On their wings there are white patterns on black and red patches. Their body is black in colour with yellow abdomen tip.
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We sometime see them flying alone on bushland. They fly in sunny places with  a slow gliding type of flight, flying back and forth. If disturbed they fly away rapidly, but will return to the same place and resume the gliding later. They seldom stop or rest so taking their photos are difficult.
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Dingy Swallowtail caterpillars are dark green to black in colour with yellow and white spots. They feed on citrus trees, include the Orange and lemon trees. Pupae are green to brown in colour and look like a broken stick.
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The butterfly is fairly common in Brisbane bushland. Can sometimes be seen flying along the footpath as its territory. 
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Caterpillar, length 30mm 

Rearing Dingy Swallowtail Caterpillar I

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In late summer we found a Dingy Swallowtail caterpillar on a citrus tree and tried to raise it to become a butterfly. The caterpillar turned into a pupa after two days. We had no luck, after a long wait, just found that the caterpillar was parasitised by the Tachnid Flies. We saw the fly larva came out from the pupa instead of a butterfly. We were a bit disappointed although we had already learnt that parasitised by Tachnid Flies are common.

Rearing Dingy Swallowtail Caterpillar II

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Caterpillar, length 30mm 
The mid-summer next year, we found another Dingy Swallowtail caterpillar on the same citrus tree. We tried our luck again. We kept the caterpillar in a jar covered with cloth. We also kept plenty of citrus leaves in our refrigerator so that we were able to supply the caterpillar with fresh food everyday. We cleaned the jar every two days.
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Pupa, length 20mm 
The caterpillar turned into a pupa a few days later. We knew if the butterfly come out, it will need some space to extend its wings. So we kept the stem with the pupa in a large jar and made sure there was plenty of room. Then cross our fingers and waited to see the butterfly.
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                                                                                                                                                        About to fly away from Tony's hand
Yes, finally we saw a beautiful Dingy Swallowtail Butterfly came out from the pupa. It took about 10 days for the pupa turned into a butterfly. It came out during the mid night while we were sleeping and we saw it hanging from its pupa early in the morning. After we took some pictures, we let go the butterfly in our backyard. The butterfly stated on Tony's hand for about a minute, had a bit of warm up. Then the wind come, the butterfly flip its wing and fly up to the sky without any practice, disappeared from our eye-sight in a few seconds.

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Last updated: July 11, 2010.