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25 Most Common Types of Butterflies in Australia (With Pictures)

monarch butterfly on a flower

Australia is home to more than 400 species of butterflies, belonging to five families of butterflies. The east coast specifically is home to a wide variety of different types, but wherever you are in the country, you can witness a wide variety of these winged creatures.

Below are the most common types of butterflies in Australia, including information on their appearance, where you are most likely to see them, and more.

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The 25 Most Common Types of Butterflies in Australia

1. Blue Triangle

Common bluebottle or blue triangle butterfly
Image Credit: EvergreenPlanet, Shutterstock
Latin Name: Graphium Sarpedon

The Blue Triangle Butterfly is named for its wings, which are shaped like a triangle and a bright turquoise colour. They are found on the east coast and in Sydney and are especially important for their ability to distinguish colour and brightness as well as movement and shape. Blue Triangles are most often seen in forests and woodlands, but they can also be found in gardens and parks.

2. Cabbage White

Pieris Rapae or cabbage white butterfly
Image Credit: NIL-Foto, Pixabay
Latin Name: Pieris Rapae

The Cabbage White is not native to Australia and was accidentally introduced in the early 20th Century. Although first spotted in Melbourne in 1929, it was found in Sydney in 1941 and has now become one of the most common species in the country’s most populous city.

As well as gardens and urban areas, the Cabbage White Butterfly is found in forests and woodlands. The tops of the wings are white while the underneath of the wings have a slight green tinge.

3. Cairns Birdwing

Ornithoptera euphorion or Cairns Birdwing
Image Credit: Gillymacca, Pixabay
Latin Name: Ornithoptera Euphorion

The Cairns Birdwing Butterfly is found in the rainforests of Queensland and gardens around Cairns. It is brightly coloured with yellow and green patches against black-framed wings. It is especially notable because, with a wingspan of 15 centimetres, it is the largest butterfly species in the country. However, while it is a large butterfly, the largest species in the world has a 27-centimetre wingspan, making it nearly twice as large as the Cairns.

4. Chain Swordtail

a Graphium aristeus or Chain Swordtail butterfly
Image Credit: Butterfly Hunter, Shutterstock
Latin Name: Graphium Aristeus

Named after the Greek God, Aristeus, the Chain Swordtail Butterfly is a relatively small species with a wingspan of just 5 centimetres. It has a brown body and dark brown wings with a yellow-green stripe.

5. Chequered Swallowtail

Papilio Demoleus Sthenelus or Chequered Swallowtail butterfly
Image Credit: sarangib, Pixabay
Latin Name: Papilio Demoleus Sthenelus

The Chequered Swallowtail is one of a number of species from the Swallowtail family, all of which feed on the wing, meaning that they eat from flowers while hovering.

The Chequered Swallowtail is a powerful butterfly with vibrant colours. If the butterfly is startled or disturbed, it spreads its wings fully to show off bright markings on the wings that look like eyes and do a very effective job of deterring bird predators. It is most often seen in the north of the country but can be seen on most of the mainland.

6. Common Brown

Heteronympha Merope or common brown butterfly
Image Credit: Jonathan Steinbeck, Shutterstock
Latin Name: Heteronympha Merope Merope

The Common Brown Butterfly is one of the most common in Australia and one that you are most likely to see. They will live in a variety of habitats and because they are able to eat introduced as well as native grasses while in the caterpillar stage, they are common in gardens and parks as well as wilder terrain. It has a dark brown and black body with a brown wing border surrounding orange markings.

7. Common Eggfly

Hypolimnas bolina or Common Eggfly or blue moon butterfly
Image Credit: Erik_Karits, Pixabay
Latin Name: Hypolimnas Bolina

The Common Eggfly Butterfly has a black body. It also has black wings, but these have a large number of egg-shaped markings in a light green colour for the male. Females can display any of a large number of colours and morphs, making it quite unique.

The male Common Eggfly is very territorial and can often be seen guarding the same spot for several days at a time. The female can be seen patrolling her nest site.

8. Flame Sedge-Skipper


Latin Name: Hesperilla Idothea Clara

The Flame Sedge-Skipper is an orange and brown butterfly that is typically seen around December time. It feeds on saw-sedge plants and gets its name because it can be seen skipping between sedges.

9. Genoveva Azure

Latin Name: Ogyris Genoveva

The Genoveva Azure is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan up to 6 centimetres. The males are blue to purple, with black edges around the wings and a brown underside. Females are light blue on top and have a similar brown pattern to the male.

10. Green-Spotted Triangle

Graphium Agamemnon or Green-Spotted Triangle butterfly
Image Credit: Myagi, Pixabay
Latin Name: Graphium Agamemnon

The Green-Spotted Triangle Butterfly is found on the coast of Queensland and is one of the triangle swallowtail species found in Australia. It is predominantly black with bright blotches of colour on its wings. At the base of the wing is a small tail.

The Green-Spotted Triangle is a fast-flying and industrious species that feeds while flying and rests only occasionally. Because it will lay eggs on native and non-native plants, it can be seen in gardens and urban areas.

11. Monarch

monarch butterfly
Image Credit: gyulche1, Pixabay
Latin Name: Danaus Plexippus

Probably the best-known and most widely recognised of all butterflies, the Monarch is prevalent throughout the world and is common in Australia. It has black-veined, orange-panelled wings with white dots. This species eats milkweed which actually makes it toxic. Predators that feast on the Monarch will likely get sick, which means that they will be less inclined to eat Monarchs again in the future.

12. Rayed Blue

Latin Name: Candalides Heathi Heathi

The Rayed Blue Butterfly is a small species with a wingspan of just 2.5 centimetres, but it makes up for its diminutive size with a bright and colourful display. Although it is called the Rayed Blue, its colour is more purple, at least on top of the wings. Underneath, this butterfly is pink.

13. Small Grass Yellow

Eurema Smilax or Small Grass Yellow butterfly
Image Credit: Erik Karits, Unsplash
Latin Name: Eurema Smilax

The Small Grass Yellow Butterfly is another small species with a wingspan of approximately 2.5 centimetres. And it is another that boasts bright colours. As the name suggests, this species is bright yellow and has black wing tips.

14. Tailed Emperor

Polyura Sempronius or Tailed Emperor butterfly
Image Credit: SherSS, Shutterstock
Latin Name: Polyura Sempronius

The Tailed Emperor is a brightly coloured butterfly. Its wings have patches of colours from cream to brown and tan to red. The females are a little larger than the males and the Tailed Emperor prefers higher altitudes. They typically live in trees, but their colours make them quite easy to spot and recognise.

15. Ulysses Swallowtail

Papilio Ulysses or Ulysses mountain blue Swallowtail butterfly
Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock
Latin Name: Papilio Ulysses

The Ulysses Swallowtail can be found in tropical climates as well as in urban areas. Its bright blue wings and the distinctive Swallowtail dance mean that this is a visible butterfly that is a pleasure to witness.

Unfortunately, its numbers are falling, and the species is somewhat under threat, so action needs to be taken to help ensure its survival.

16. Four-Barred Swordtail

Fourbarredswordtail (Image Credit: Tom Tarrant, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Species: Protographium leosthenes

The Four-Barred Swordtail is a brown-and-white butterfly that gets its name from the four parallel brown bars that run down the leading edge of the forewing. The wingspan is usually just under 2 inches. You will usually find it along the eastern border of Australia.

17. Psyche Butterfly

Leptosia_nina-Kadavoor-2017-05-04-003 (Image credit: Jee & Rani Nature Photography, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Species: Leptosia nina

The Psyche Butterfly is a small white butterfly with a single black corner and a dark spot on the upper side of each wing. It’s a slow-moving butterfly that will quickly pick up the pace if you get too close. Look for it in shady areas where there are plenty of wildflowers throughout Australia.

18. Scarlett Jezebel

CSIRO_ScienceImage_992_Delias_argenthona_Pieridae (Image Credit: CSIRO, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)
Species: Delias argenthona

The Scarlet Jezebel is an attractive medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 2.25 inches. It has bright red, white, yellow, and black markings that make it easy to spot. It tends to fly high in the tree, where it enjoys feeding on flower nectar. Look for these attractive butterflies in the northern part of western Australia.

19. Lemon Emigrant

Catopsilia_pomona_by_kadavoor_Jeevan Jose
Catopsilia_pomona_by_kadavoor (Image Credit: Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Species: Catopsilia pomona

The Lemon Emigrant is a migrating butterfly, which is how it gets its name. The male tends to appear green, while the female has a pale yellow color. Look for these butterflies in open areas along a river, or catch them as they migrate in the spring and fall.

20. Small Grass Yellow

Eurema Smilax or Small Grass Yellow butterfly
Image Credit: Erik Karits, Unsplash
Species: Eurema brigitta

The Small Grass Yellow butterfly is a pale-yellow butterfly with a dark rim around the edge of the wings that makes it easy to identify. The underside of the wings is pale yellow with small black spots. Look for these butterflies in open grass flying close to the ground. These insects also like to form small groups on patches of damp sand or soil throughout Australia.

21. Moth Butterfly

Moth Butterfly (liphyra brassolis)
Image Credit: Roshan_Bhatia, Shutterstock
Species: Liphyra brassolis

The Moth Butterfly is a large butterfly with a wingspan of several inches. The wings have an attractive pattern that consists of several shades of brown and yellow, which causes collectors to seek them out. Their larvae eat ant larvae, so you will usually find them near ant nests, especially tree ants near the western coast of Australia.

22. Purple Copper

Species: Paralucia spinifera

The Purple Copper is a small butterfly with a wingspan of less than 1 inch. It has a thick body, and the upper side of the wings has purple, blue, and green iridescence in the sunlight and a copper-colored base. It has black antennae with small white spots that end in a black ball. You will usually find these butterflies above 3,000 feet in cold weather with regular snowfalls or heavy frost.

23. Hairy Line Blue

Species: Deudorix epijarbas

The Hairy Line Blue is a butterfly that you can find in Queensland, Australia. The upper side of the wing is scarlet red with large black borders, while the underside is grey brown with white edges. It enjoys drinking nectar and is easy to find near colorful flowers.

24. Common Evening Brown

Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)
Image Credit: Peace-loving, Shutterstock
Species: Melanitis leda

The Common Evening Brown is a common Australian butterfly that you will see flying at dusk. Its flight pattern appears erratic, but it is often defending its territory from any visitors during dusk hours. It feeds mainly on nectar but eats rotting food if no nectar is available. It has a brown body with large black spots on each wing.

25. Leafwing

Leafwing butterfly (Doleschallia bisaltide)
Image Credit: Sanit Fuangnakhon, Shutterstock
Species: Doleschallia bisaltide

The Leafwing is a butterfly that goes by the name Autumn Leaf in other parts of the world, and as the name suggests, it looks remarkably similar to a dried-up autumn leaf when sitting on a branch or resting on the ground. You will usually find these butterflies in northeast Australia if you look carefully in the trees.

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Australia is home to more than 400 species of butterflies, and they can be found across the whole country, as well as on neighbouring islands. Sizes, colours, and preferred habitats do vary according to species, but if you are a keen butterfly spotter, you shouldn’t find it difficult to locate some of the more unusual and remarkable butterflies in Australia.

Featured Image Credit: ulleo, Pixabay


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