Name source
Australian Faunal Directory
Data links

Life Science Identifier (LSID):

LSIDs are persistent, location-independent,resource identifiers for uniquely naming biologically significant resources including species names, concepts, occurrences, genes or proteins, or data objects that encode information about them. To put it simply, LSIDs are a way to identify and locate pieces of biological information on the web.

Data Links


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Further details

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Species presence
 Recorded In Australia
 Terrestrial Habitats
Conservation status

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  • representative image of taxa
    Source: AM Scott Sisters Images
    Image by: Helena Scott
    Rights: Copyright Australian Museum

Online resources

Distribution, Reference, Images, Occurrence record

Species Lists

Queensland : Conservation Status
vernacular: Richmond Birdwing Butterfly
status: Endangered
sourceStatus: Vulnerable
Queensland : Conservation Status
vernacular: Richmond Birdwing Butterfly
status: Endangered
sourceStatus: Vulnerable
QLD Wildlife Data - species profile notes
AcceptedCommonName: Richmond birdwing
KingdomName: Animalia
KingdomCommonName: animals
ClassName: Insecta
ClassCommonName: insects
FamilyName: Papilionidae
FamilyCommonName: swallowtails
FamilyRank: 825572
Description: The Richmond birdwing is one of Australia's largest butterflies with a wingspan of up to 15cm in females and 13cm in males. The wings of males are velvety green and black on the upper side, with vivid blue, green and gold patches on the hindwings on the underside. The wings of the female are dark grey or brown with white and yellow patches on the upper and underside. Both male and female have a green stripe on the thorax (between the head and stomach) and distinctive red patches on their bodies at the base of the wing.
The mature larvae can grow up to 70mm long and are variable in colour, ranging from black to whitish grey. Larvae have a series of prominent, fleshy spines running along their belly.
(Common & Waterhouse 1981; Sands & Scott 1996; Braby 2000).
NCAStatusCode: V
BOTStatusCode: C
Endemicity: N
Distribution: The Richmond birdwing distribution once extended from Grafton in New South Wales to Maryborough in southern Queensland. Today it is only known in two areas from Caboolture to Kin Kin in the north and Nerang to Wardell in New South Wales in the south. (Sands & New 2002).
Habitat: Richmond birdwing butterflies live in subtropical rainforest where its larval host plants Richmond birdwing vine and mountain aristolochia vine grow. The Richmond birdwing vine occurs below 600m asl on basaltic slopes, creek banks, or on volcanic alluvial soils near watercourses, while mountain aristolochia vine occurs on basaltic ridges and slopes at >800m asl. Montane populations are subject to periodic extinctions and re-colonisation is dependent on immigrants from the lowlands. (Common & Waterhouse 1981; Sands & Scott 1996; Sands et al. 1997).
Behaviour: This species has a flying period from September to April in coastal areas and November to February in coastal ranges. Adults fly throughout the day but are more active during the early morning and late afternoon. The larvae have relatively high food demands and may cannibalise each other, resulting in low densities on suitable vines. (Common & Waterhouse 1981; Sands 1990; FitzGibbon 1997; Sands et al. 1997; Braby 2000; Sands & Scott 2002).
Reproduction: The Richmond birdwing lays round, greenish-yellow eggs singly or in small clusters on the native Richmond birdwing vine (Paristolochia praevenosa) and the mountain aristolochia vine (P. laheyana). The eggs hatch in 9-13 days, begin pupation at 1 month and typically emerge 29-40 days later. Pupae formed late in the breeding season may enter diapause over winter, not emerging until the following spring. There are two breeding periods (bivoltine) per year in the lowlands, but only one per year (univoltine) at higher altitudes. (Common & Waterhouse 1981; Orr 1994; Sands & Scott 1996, 1997; Braby 2000; Sands & Scott 2002).
Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a range of rainforest canopy and exotic garden species. The primary food plant at altitudes below 600m is the Richmond birdwing vine (P.praevenosa), but in areas above 800m, mountain aristolochia (P.lahevana) is used as a substitute. (Manski 1960; Sands & Scott 1996; Sands et al. 1997).
ThreateningProcesses: Known : 1. Habitat destruction and degradation, especially lowland rainforest containing suitable breeding sites.
2. Impact of exotic Aristolochia elegans which is toxic to larvae and has spread from gardens into national parks and reserves.
3. Sterility caused by inbreeding in isolated colonies.
Suspected : 1. Extreme environmental conditions, e.g prolonged drought.
2. Release into wild of Ornithoptera euphorion which can hybridise with O. richmondia.
All threatening processes listed by Sands & Scott (1996).
ManagementRecommendations: Further enrichment planting of larval food plant vine.
Investigation of control measures for A. elegans.
Feasibility study of captive breeding program.
Conservation of birdwing habitat.
References: Braby, M.F. (2000). The Butterflies of Australia: their identification, biology and distribution. Volume 1 & 2. CSIRO : Melbourne.
Common, I.F.B. & Waterhouse, D.F. (1981). Butterflies of Australia. Reprint edition of 1995. CSIRO Australia : East Melbourne.
FitzGibbon, S. (1997). Taxon Notes for Ornithoptera richmondia. WildNet, Environmental Protection Agency : Brisbane.
Dunn, K.L. & Dunn, L.E. (1991). Review of Australian Butterflies : Distribution, Life History and Taxonomy. Part 1 : Introduction, Papilionidae, Pieridae and Regional Adult Temporal Data. Dunn & Dunn : Melbourne.
Manski, M.J. (1960). Food plats of some Queensland lepidoptera. Queensland Naturalist 16, 68-73.
McFarland, D.C. (2007). Taxon Profiles Version 2.0: Threatened And Priority Fauna Taxa In Queensland: Biology And Distribution. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Orr, A. G. (1994). Inbreeding depression in Australian butterflies: some implications for conservation. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 36, 179-184.
Sands, D. (1990). Australia's endangered butterflies. Entomological Society of Queensland News Bulletin 18, 63-68.
Sands, D.P.A. & New, T.R. (2002). The Action Plan for Australian Butterflies. Environment Australia : Canberra.
Sands, D.P.A. & Scott, S.E. (1996). Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia [Gray]) Recovery Plan 1996-2001. CSIRO Australia : Indooroopilly.
Sands, D & Scott, S. (1997). Richmond Birdwing. Nature Australia 25(7), 24-29.
Sands, D.P.A. & Scott, S. (2002). The Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia [Gray]). In: D.P.A. Sands & S. Scott (eds). Conservation of Birdwing Butterflies, SciComEd Pty Ltd, Marsden, Qld. pp. 32-47.
Sands, D.P.A., Scott, S.E. & Moffatt, R. (1997). The threatened Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia [Gray]): a community conservation project. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 56, 449-453.
Author: D.McFarland (2008-11-17 00:00:00)

Names and sources

Accepted name Source
Ornithoptera richmondia


Synonyms Source
Amphrisius australis Swainson, 1851 Swainson, 1851 Swainson, 1851
Published in: Swainson, W. 1851. Review. [book review] Australian Lepidoptera and Their Transformations Drawn from Life, by Harriet and Helena Scott, with Descriptions General and Systematic, by A.W. Scott. The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 August 1851
Papilio richmondia Gray, 1853 Gray, 1853 Gray, 1853

Common Names

Common name Source
Richmond Birdwing Butterfly
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Richmond Birdwing
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Working classification

Ornithoptera richmondia  Recorded in Australia

Occurrence records

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Charts showing breakdown of occurrence records

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Name references found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Name references found in the TROVE - NLA