Nature Queries | Unusual visitor likes its citrus

BIG CHANGE: This little caterpillar has a beautiful destiny ahead.
BIG CHANGE: This little caterpillar has a beautiful destiny ahead.

I found this little creature about an inch long on my lemon tree. What will it turn into? A.K., Invermay.

This is a caterpillar of the dainty swallowtail butterfly. It is an uncommon insect in the Ballarat region, being found more commonly north of the Divide, especially along the Murray Valley where citrus orchards are common.

The caterpillars feed on citrus leaves.

It will grow into an attractive black and white butterfly with a wingspan of 70mm.

The natural range of this butterfly is in New South Wales and Queensland, but it has gradually spread southward where citrus trees are commonly grown. Its native host plants are native limes.

Older references call it the dingy swallowtail, probably because of a greyish wash on its forewings.

  • Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to rthomas@vic.australis.com.au