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Also known as the Dingy Swallowtail or the Small Citrus Swallowtail butterfly.
Papilio anactus, the smallest of the Australian butterflies, is a medium sized butterfly endemic to Australia that is very dependent, as a caterpillar, upon various citrus species for its survival.
To protect itself against predatation, this non-poisonous butterfly mimics the male Clearwing or Greasy Swallowtail (Cressida cressida), a poisonous
Swallowtail butterfly that obtains its toxic properties through its host plant, the Dutchman's Pipe.
Also to protect themselves from predators, the caterpillars use a bright reddish orange forked organ from behind their heads called an ‘osmeterium’. This osmeterium emits a strong smelling chemical that smells of citrus, to discourage predators that would normally eat an unprotected caterpillar.
Adults are mostly black, with white and gray wings, with smaller red and blue spots on their hind wings, and yellow on the last half of their bodies and the tails of the hindwings.
Their flight is slow and meandering, again mimicking the Clearwing / Greasy Swallowtail, but they can become quite fast if disturbed, with males patrolling the area around their food plants.
Before landing, they will fly around and inspect their intended landing area to insure its safety.
When nectaring, they will not land on the food plant, but will flutter in front of the plant as most swallowtails do, similar to hummingbirds. (This will protect the plant from any damage that it might incur if landed on.)
Males are often seen "puddling", (landing in puddles and taking in the water through their proboscises to gain the salt and minerals found in the water.)
Diet: caterpillars are dependent on various citrus varieties for its survival.
Diet: adults take nectar from many citrus varieties.
Avg. wingspan: to 7.2 cm / 2.8"
The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!
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