Australian Painted Lady feeding on Mexican Orange flowers
This site is for nature lovers and gardeners who are interested to learn more about the butterflies (and some moths) that may visit a Dorrigo Plateau garden. You can also read what makes a butterfly paradise. We plan to continue to expand content as new species are discovered here. As conservationists we encourage those interested in butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) to help protect them by providing in their garden/on their property, the specific food plants local butterfly caterpillars (larva) feed on. This will be different for each butterfly and moth species, we list butterfly food plants on this site and those for hawkmoths.
Whilst many of us experienced the urge to collect, particularly in our younger years, these days there is no need to kill insects to have a collection. As shown in this website a collection can be developed using photographs, now so easy utilising digital phones and camera photography. It is always important to remember man often unknowingly places pressures on all flora and fauna by the changes made to our environment. Any action taken to preserve our native flora and fauna is a positive contribution to the survival of species on our planet.
Dorrigo is a small town on the tablelands of Northern New South Wales about 550k north of Sydney, NSW and approximately 450k south of Brisbane, Qld.
Every butterfly included in this website has been sighted on our Dorrigo Plateau property (approx. 800 metres above sea level) at some time since 2005. A small number of these butterflies we were unable to photograph at time of sighting and temporarily have used other photos available to us. Of the 435 recorded species of Australian butterflies (mainland and island territories) we have identified 85 here as at May 2021. That figure is made up of 8 Swallowtail species, 23 Skipper species, 15 Whites & Yellows species, 24 Nymphs species and 15 Blue's species.
We will also show you caterpillars (larvae) and chrysalises (pupae) if photographed to help you more fully understand their life cycle. If you gain enjoyment from seeing beautiful butterflies in your garden and wish that joy to continue, knowing how to protect and care for their early stages is very important. Caterpillars have had their name blackened by people determined to treat them as pests to make a financial profit. Caterpillars mostly feed on leaves, an activity that does not put plants under any pressure as has been proven time and time again over many millions of years. Caterpillars are not pests and should be thought of as the early stages of butterflies and moths. If caterpillars are destroyed then there will be no butterflies or moths. Hence, they need caterpillars to survive. Caterpillars are also an important component in the food chain and birds in particular would struggle to survive without good numbers of healthy caterpillars to eat.
The Butterfly Banquet page will show you how to encourage butterflies to visit your garden and stay a while.
The photographs (unless otherwise labelled) are ours and are taken on our property. The information is mostly from our own experience but includes some from the acknowledge sources listed below and on the Butterfly Gallery page.
As conservationists our butterfly collection is in the form of photographs.
With digital photography the days of amateur enthusiasts having to kill butterflies to demonstrate their sightings, and pin them in a collection, have gone.
Today everyone can create an exciting collection of natural butterfly moments in the form of photographs leaving these beautiful insects to fly free and continue to reproduce offspring.
We think it important, for future reference, to keep records of our butterfly sightings and mostly keep these on a monthly basis on our website. However with less common species we record how many times we sight them within the month as well. The full value of such data will only be known in the future when another enthusiast attempts to learn how each species is fairing in the conservation stakes.
Use the Butterfly Gallery page for initial identification. Click on the photo to go to the information page for that butterfly. Alternatively, go there via the drop-down menu for the Gallery page.
In addition to butterflies we are also interested in the study of moths, in particular Hawk Moths. Because of our deep interest in Hawk Moths we have extended our photos to include some we have photographed elsewhere in Australia - to ensure this does not create confusion we clearly show the location of each Hawk Moth sighting. Several contacts have kindly supplied photos to improve our coverage of some species.
We have also included some of the other Plateau moths photographed on our property to give an idea of their beauty also.
We give our warmest thanks to all who assist us over time either with the provision of photographs or by willingly undertaking reviews of our work helping to verify that the content of our website is correct. We accept that lepidoptera identification from photographs is generally much more difficult than identification of a pinned specimen and are truly grateful for this assistance.
We are particularly indebted to Trevor Lambkin and Kelvyn Dunn for their expert advice on butterfly identification, especially the difficult Skippers and Blues; to Bart Hacobian for his superb assistance with moth identification; to Max Moulds, Jim Tuttle & David Lane for their expert assistance with everything Hawkmoth related, to Phil Gilmour for being a constant source of expert advice on botanical matters as well as being a good butterfly spotter and to the other members of the Lepidoptera Group of N. E. NSW (TLCG) Mick Andren, Doug Binns, Peter Richards and Ross Macleay. Also to John Ross and Darren Moffatt for their assistance with butterfly information and to all our family and friends for helpful comments on layout and typos.
We acknowledge the authors of the following books and publications from which we have acquired some of our Lepidoptera and botanical knowledge over time and to Botanical and Lepidoptera friends who have always willingly assisted us with the benefits of their knowledge:
BUTTERFLY BOOKS * Butterflies of Australia - Their Identification, Biology & Distribution Vols #1 & #2 Michael F. Braby 2000 * The Butterflies of Australia - Albert Orr & Roger Kitching 2010 * All About Butterflies of Australia - Garry Sankowsky 2015 * The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia 2nd Edition - Michael F. Braby 2016 * A Field Guide To BUTTERFLIES Of Australia - Garry Sankowsky 2020
MOTH BOOKS * Moths of Australia - I.F.B. Common 1990 * Hawkmoths of Australia - M.S. Moulds, J.P. Tuttle, D.A. Lane 2020
BOTANY BOOKS * Rainforest Trees of Mainland South-eastern Australia - A.G. Floyd 2008 * Mangroves to Mountains - Leiper, Glazebrook, Cox & Rathoe 2nd Edition 2017*
* Jackie Beer's, Australian Butterfly and Moth Facebook group - provides valuable details of species sightings. * iNaturalist website for valuable assistance in moth identification * Don Herbison-Evans for his valuable http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/butter.html website for valued assistance in moth and moth larva identification.
VALUABLE ASSISTANCE from FRIENDS
* LEPIDOPTERA: Doug Binns, Kelvyn Dunn, Ted Edwards, Phil Gilmour, Bart Hacobian, Trevor Lambkin, Max Moulds, Darren Moffatt, Gary Sankowsky, Jim Tuttle
* BOTANY: Doug Binns, Colin Broadfoot, Phil Gilmour, Bart Hacobian, Barry Hicks, Carole Helman, Darren Moffatt, Rowan McCabe, Ross Macleay, Jan Parkin, Bill Peel, Pete Richards, John Ross