Fluttering by

Female Birdwing on Phaleria Lovely sunny days following some good soaking rain;  we are entertained with bird song from very early morning, butterflies provide extra splashes of colour  amongst the green and the air is redolent with a variety of perfumes now that many different plants have burst into bloom.

Cairns Birdwings (Ornithoptera priamus euphorion) were very attracted to the flowers of Scented Daphne (Phaleria clerodendron) and as I stood by this small tree they fluttered around me.  The flowers only last a few days and the butterflies were making the most of the available nectar.  Scented Daphne is a delightful rainforest tree/shrub which grows and flowers well even in a semi-shaded situation.  The flowers are followed by bright red fruit which are eaten by Cassowary but happen to be quite toxic to us.  Not a plant recommended for gardens frequented by small children.

Male Birdwing on Phaleria

You can see from the blurred wings that  these butterflies were busy feeding, they just kept flitting from one flower to another.

The larvae of Cairns Birdwings feed on a native vine, Aristolochia acuminata. Although the adults will lay eggs on the introduced Aristolochia elegans, commonly called Dutchman’s Pipe,  it is poisonous to the larvae and they don’t survive.

A couple of days later I managed a better photo of the male while he was resting in the dappled light of a Rain tree (Samanea saman). This large tree species, a native of Central and South America, was often planted by early settlers in this district after they had cleared much of the native vegetation.

A further comment on fluttering – on one of our recent ‘toading’ expeditions we stopped to admire the masses of flowers on our Durian trees.  These large, creamy flowers are pollinated at night so the major pollinators are moths and blossom bats.  Several of these delightful blossom bats were fluttering through the tree mostly alighting for only a second before they moved to another flower.   So far our photographic attempts have been unsuccessful but the experience is unforgettable.

8 responses to “Fluttering by

  1. Lovely Birdwing – especially the male.
    We all have nice butterflies, but yours are special indeed.

  2. Beautiful butterflies! The blossom bats sound interesting. What size are they?

    • The blossom bats are the size of small mice, golden brown with pointy noses and a few spots on their wings – they are beautiful, I just wish I could manage a photo!

  3. Interesting. So much butterfly beauty, amid less welcome plant imports. I feel too many parks and reserves here in the north do nothing toward meaningful revegetation. I’d swap every Rain Tree for native figs.

    • Yes Tony we agree absolutely – there is very little attention paid to the wonderfully diverse native species that could be planted in parks and reserves. We’ve planted lots of different species of figs here as they are a wonderful food source for many different animal species.

  4. The birdwings are stirring up here. They hang about in the canopy but drift down occasionally to visit the Pandorea. Must get around to planting some native Aristolochia — if I can pademelon-proof them.

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