Scientific name: Ornithopreta richmondia

Status

  • Queensland: Vulnerable (NCA 1992)

What does it look like?

The Richmond birdwing is the largest butterfly in subtropical eastern Australia. It occurs only in subtropical northern NSW and south east QLD. Adult Richmond birdwings vary considerably in size. The male’s wingspan is smaller (11-13cm) than that of the female (14-16cm), while males are more attractive than females, with green areas on the upper side of both wings and blue, green and gold patches on the underside of the hind wings.

Where are they found?

Richmond birdwings inhabit lowland subtropical rainforests where the Birdwing Butterfly vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) is sufficient enough. The species’ population density has been shrinking rapidly since early 1900s, with most of the coastal populations north of Brisbane having been destroyed and only small pockets remaining outside Brisbane. However, in 2009 female Richmond birdwings were observed in the Redland City Council area (Thornlands).

What is threatening them?

Clearing of lowland rainforest for forestry and farming and urban development destroying food plant vine habitats are primary threats to the species, while invasive weeds such as Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica), Madeira vine (Aristolochia elegans) and Dutchman’s Pipe vine are poisonous for the Richmond birdwing larvae. The most recent threats are climate change and prolonged droughts worsening the food plant quality.

Conservation

Richmond birdwing butterfly is protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. It is an offence to damage or interfere with Richmond birdwing butterfly in any other way than when accepted by the Act.

Redland City Council manages environmental pests throughout the Redlands to minimise their impact on native ecosystems and insects such as the Richmond birdwing butterfly.

Did you know…?

Richmond birdwings’ eggs hatch in 10 to 13 days and the caterpillar fully grows and transforms to a pupae in 25-50 days. Adults start emerging after 22-40 days in summer, but in winter it takes 120-300 days for the adult to develop.

How you can help

If you have seen or suspect the Richmond birdwing butterfly at any location, please report it to IndigiScapes on (07) 3824 8611.