Butterfly of the Months - January 2022

Tailed Emperor (Charaxes sempronius)


Let's start the year by celebrating a spectacular butterfly. The Tailed Emperor is impressive at all life cycle stages. The adult’s wingspan reaches 85mm for females and 75mm for males. The larvae hatch from globular smooth eggs which have a flat top. From the first instar they don unusual looks with their head showing two pairs of long horns. Yellow body colour and black head of the larvae change to green, with yellow crescent shaped markings appearing on the body before the metamorphosis produces an attractive green pupa. The beauty of the adult butterflies is well documented in the images above and show the very different patterns on the upper and underside of the wings.


Fermenting sap and fruit are used as food source by the adults, while the larvae feed on a large variety of plants, and especially love their Acacias (favouring the ones with true leaves) and Cassias, but may also be found on many others. The larvae spin a platform of silk on the leave(s) of their host plant, and use it to rest during daytime. They venture out from there at night to feed.


Male adults are known for their hill-topping behaviour and for being territorial..


Images: DM-Deborah Metters; PC-Peter Chew; Brisbane Insects; RS- Ross Field CC BY SA 3.0 au; SA-Sylvia Alexander; SH-Simon Hinkley, Museum Victoria CC BY SA 3.0 au