In recent weeks Ranger Mick has recorded the remarkable transformation of a Tailed Emperor Butterfly from caterpillar to butterfly.
Chancing on a caterpillar while removing the woody weed Honey Locust, Mick moved it to a wattle tree where it promptly pupated. After several weeks he was lucky enough to observe the butterfly emerging – see photos below of the sequence.
The Tailed Emperor (Charaxes sempronius) is one of Australia’s largest butterflies, with wing spanning up to 11 cms. From a fantastically scary-looking caterpillar (which is actually harmless), to an almost-invisible camouflaged pupae, eventually hatches a beautiful cream, brown and black butterfly with swallow-tail wings.
These butterflies are attracted to the fermenting juices of over-ripe fruit, and feed on the sap of Acacias as well as common garden exotics such as Crepe Myrtle and Poinciana.