Daintree Rainforest’s butterflies – Discovering the beauty of the world’s oldest rainforest

The world’s oldest and most spectacular rainforest can be found to the north of Cairns in Australia, 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, but 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, making it the country’s highest populated region of butterflies. 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, this does not, however, prevent them from catching your eye since they have such a unique style of flight.

  • Swallow Tails (Papilionidae)

    Swallow Tails are large butterflies that bear 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, but even with a wingspan of over 20cm these well-camouflaged insects are often difficult to spot.

  • Whites and Yellows (Pieridae)

    The name Whites and Yellows simply comes from the standard colouring of all these butterflies, which generally include large white and yellow spots, and smaller black dots. The name ‘butterfly’ is believed to have come from a member of this family, having been called the ‘butter-coloured fly’ because of its colouring.

  • Bowns and Nymphs (Nymphalidae)

    These butterflies are unique because of the brightly coloured top of their wings and the dull colours of their underwings, which allows them to camouflage themselves very effectively 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.

See the beautiful butterflies on our 1 Day Cape Tribulation Tour.

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