The Ulysses butterfly, named after the Greek hero from the epic Odyssey, is a swallowtail butterfly found in and around Australia. It’s striking blue colors make it one of the most attractive of all butterflies.
- Family: Papilionidae
- Genus: Papilio
- Common names: Ulysses butterfly, Blue emperor, Mountain blue, Blue Mountain Swallowtail
- Scientific Name: Papilio Ulysses
Initially, they are yellowish-green in color. There is a pair of spikes on each segment on the back. There is a black mark around the middle section. Older caterpillars are white and green, keeping them well-camouflaged in the leaves of their host plants.
The chrysalis is about 1.57 in (4 cm) in length; green in color. It stays suspended from the food plant.
Sexual Dimorphism: Females have little blue crescents on the back of their upper wings, while that of the males is entirely black. There are long and extended tails at the bottom of the wing.
When unfolded, the wings are a bright electric blue with black borders. There are some characteristic thin black lines running along the forewings.
In a folded position, the colors are a far more inconspicuous black and brown.
Average Wingspan: 5.5 inches (14 cm).
Flight Pattern: Fast and erratic.
Spherical and white, laid individually on the leaves of their food plant. The eggs become darker as they become ready to hatch.
Female Ulysses butterflies prefer to lay eggs on short plants, no taller than two meters, so the eggs are more likely to be spotted on shorter host plants.
|Distribution||Eastern Queensland, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, the Moluccas, and the north-western Solomon Islands|
|Habitat||Suburban gardens and tropical rainforests|
|Lifespan of adults||As little as a week to a few months, with maximum lifespan being around 8 months|
|Host plants||Plants of the Euodia genus and kerosene wood|
|Adult diet||Blossoms of pink flowered doughwood|
Did You Know?
- Male Ulysses butterflies are known to be attracted to the blue crescents on the female’s wings, and as a result, may fly towards anything blue that it may spot.
- The Australian state of Queensland uses this butterfly as an emblem to promote tourism.
- The bright colors act as a warning to predators.