Butterfly Families in the Daintree Rainforest

Butterfly Families in the Daintree Rainforest

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/13/2016

Reading time: 3 mins

The world’s oldest rainforest is also home to some of the most beautiful butterflies!

The Daintree Rainforest covers a vast area of 1200km² and is over 135 million years old. Home to the world’s most diverse range of fauna and flora, Daintree has become a destination that inspires a sense of fascination in all its visitors.

The rainforest is a small part of the much bigger Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. While the Wet Tropics play host to some incredible insects, there are none quite as beautiful, or as plentiful as Daintree’s butterflies. Of Australia’s 435 currently recognised species of butterfly, 230 of them can be found in this rainforest. There are so many here it is Australia’s largest butterfly population!. During a visit to Daintree, you will have the chance to see butterflies from all five of the main families in Australia.

  • Skippers (Hesperiidae)

    Commonly known as skippers because of the quick, darting way that they fly. Skippers are generally dull-coloured with their wings being made up of mostly browns and greys. Their unique flying style however means that they are certain to catch your eye.

  • Swallow Tails (Papilionidae)

    Swallow Tails are large butterflies of vibrant colours. The Ulysses butterfly is a member of this family and has become the symbol for tourism throughout Northern Queensland. The family also includes the world’s largest butterfly, the Birdwing Butterfly. Their impressive 20cm wingspan isn’t easy to spot though! They are very good at camouflaging and you’ll likely struggle in your quest to see one.

  • Whites and Yellows (Pieridae)

    The name Whites and Yellows simply comes from the standard colouring of all these butterflies. Generally they display large white and yellow spots, and smaller black dots. In fact, the word butterfly is believed to have come from this species. They are so yellow in nature they reminded people of butter, a ‘butter-coloured fly’.

  • Bowns and Nymphs (Nymphalidae)

    These butterflies are unique because of the brightly coloured top of their wings and the dull colours of their under wings. This unique mutation allows them to camouflage themselves very effectively. When their wings are closed they appear to be dead leaves.,  as dead leaves with their wings closed, as well as being able to ward off predators with their wings open.

  • Blues and Coppers (Lycaenidae)

    These vibrant butterflies are quite small, with an average wingspan of under 5cm. Though they may be small, they will easily catch your eye, since many of them have a metallic gloss the glitters in the sunlight as they flutter through the air. The Apollo Jewel is a member of this family and is endangered, Daintree Rainforest is one of the last places on earth that still plays host to this beautiful butterfly.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.