Butterflies and other invertebrates
The Australian Wet Tropics are not only home to 40% of Australian birds, but also to 68% of Australian butterflies. Of the roughly 435 butterfly species, 277 are found in North Queensland.
Close to 40000 species of insects have been recorded, including many large and colourful beetles and dragonflies.
The drier savannah country to the west adds to the variety of insects.
Our tropical climate also favours increased insect sizes, therefore you can find some of the largest insects in the world here:
-the world’s largest dragonfly, the Giant Petaltail (Petalura ingentissima), with a wingspan of 160mm,
-Australia’s largest butterfly, the Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion). The female has a wingspan of 150mm,
-Australia’s largest moth, the Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules), with a wingspan of 270mm,
– the world’s heaviest cockroach, the Giant Burrowing Cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros), which grows to over 80mm in lenght, weighs up to 30g and lives for up to 10 years,
-the world’s strongest beetle, the Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylotrupes ulysses), up to 60mm long, and able to lift 850 times its own body weight,
-the largest stick insects here are almost half a meter long. We have the world’s loudest cicadas, and Australia’s (and possibly the world’s) largest ant, the 36mm long Bulldog Ant.
Some of the insects, which can be observed on our property:
-a large variety of butterflies (the beautiful Regent Skippers are especially numerous from November to March) and moths (to attract the latter, we set up a MV light and a white sheet on some evenings),
–fireflies in spring and summer, emerging from the creek area and dispersing through the forest,
–Giant Petaltails cruising through the forest in summer,
-many different katydids and grasshoppers, as well as beetles and stick insects.
-several species of cicadas. The giant, aptly named, Red Roarers fortunately only have bumper adult populations every 5 to 7 years for a few weeks in early summer (they can be very noisy).
Following is a list of butterfly species, which we have identified on our property so far. We only photograph, do not capture them, thus the patchy nature of our list.
(observed on our property)
Generally, there are more butterflies in summer, but, unless otherwise mentioned, they fly all year). most abundant in:
Pieridae (Whites and Yellows)
Northern Sword-grass Brown (Helena Brown)
Large Green-banded Blue
Small Green-banded Blue
You might find these websites of interest:
Eminent entomologist David Rentz has a regular blog with very detailed information about insects, and excellent macro photographs:
Alan Henderson, another local insect expert, has a minibeast website:
For moth identification:
For stick insects:
All photos taken on our property