Have You Seen This Butterfly?

A New Butterfly in Auckland.

On 15 January 2011 I saw an unusual butterfly fluttering around and feeding on Agapanthus flowers in an Epsom garden. It was clearly one of the swallowtail butterflies in the genus Papilio of which there are many species throughout the world but none in New Zealand...until now! I was able to see it briefly up close but not able to capture it to get an accurate identification. It was similar in general colour and appearance to the one pictured here but there are many species that look much like this and the differences between them can be subtle. Slightly smaller than a monarch and being much paler in colour (a nice creamy lemon) with contrasting oblique black bands across the forewings made it stand out from a distance. Its flight is more swift than the lazy lolloping flight of a monarch.

 Papilio Butterfly

What species of Papilio is it? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Is it established and breeding here? Is there only one or are there more? Is it only in Auckland or also in other parts of NZ as well? Your help is vital in answering these questions.

If you see a butterfly looking like this please contact me ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   Tel. 09 306 7042) with details of where and when you saw it.   An actual specimen to confirm the record is needed, failing that a good photo.

John Early, Auckland Museum