Butterflies in the Whitsundays

Editorial

...butterflies actually have characteristics of the people and creatures in Greek myths.

Have you looked up into the sky on a cloudless, sunny day recently? I mean really, really looked? You’ll soon notice that butterflies are back in full force and are flapping their iridescent wings one flutter at a time, making for one of the top attractions in the Whitsundays. Here is a guide to some of the most beautiful butterflies down under.

There a five types of butterfly living in Australia and hundreds of species. Within the different families of butterfly there are subfamilies too - an added layer of complexity to this fascinating species.

The first ‘family’ you should look out for are ‘Nymphs and Daniads’. You may have already picked up that they are named after Greek myths and, interestingly enough, the butterflies actually resemble a few characteristics of the people and creatures in these myths. 

The Tailed Emperor butterfly usually flies strong and high whilst the White Nymph can be seen perching on leaves and has stunning, intricately patterned wings.  
The Monarch butterfly in the same sub family certainly possesses a kingly appearance. Gorgeous orange, black and white speckled wings make the Monarch one of the prettiest of all.  

The Lurcher, Cruiser, Leafwing and Australia Painted Lady are but a few more butterflies that belong to the Nymphs and Daniads family. This rather large family can be seen swooping through the skies of North Queensland. For a truly tropical experience be sure to take a walk around the famous Conway National Park in the Whitsundays or go on a bush walk through Eungella National Park, a short drive from Mackay, both are home to the famous Ulysses butterfly.

Ulysses ButterflyUlysses ButterflyBlue Tiger ButterflyBlue Tiger Butterfly

Lycaenidae (or for the less scientifically minded amongst us, ‘Blues and Coppers’) are a family that start out as honey-secreting caterpillars.  

The Shining Moonbeam, Sapphire Satin and Indigo Flash are part of this eclectic crew and are undoubtedly some of the most stunning butterflies around. However if style fails to entice you perhaps the ‘Skippers’ family with their plain appearance, yet short and sharp movements just might.

There are about 3500 subfamilies of Skippers and in Australia you can expect to see more than your fair share. The Sword-brand grass Skipper, for example, is usually found in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland, Stretching from Cooktown in the north to Townsville and further south to the Whitsundays, the tropical rainforest is just spectacular with an array of fauna and flora. Walk amongst the tree tops and admire the sights and sounds of the rainforest.

‘White and Yellows’ are the kings of camouflage and their flight is fast and scattered. The Grass Yellow subfamily includes Pink, Lined and Scalloped butterflies. You can find these sprightly creatures in the skies above North Queensland’s tropics.

Forget Kangaroos, koala bears and crocodiles. Look up to the sky to discover Australia’s plethora of butterflies in all sizes and colours and take a walk-about through the alluring locations they inhabit.

N.B. Most of the Butterflies mentioned above can also be found along the North Coast of Queensland, so if you are hiking in the Eungella National Park or holidaying in the beautiful Whitsundays, don't forget to look up, you might just spot one fluttering its iridescent wings.