An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

WA ClimateWatcher spots Orchard Swallowtail butterfly well outside of its east coast range

 Orchard Swallowtail


The Orchard Swallowtail is a large butterfly found along eastern Australia, from Cape York in northern Queensland to South Australia, but is rare in southern Victoria and South Australia as it prefers more humid tropical and subtropical conditions.

A recent #ClimateWatch sighting recorded by Chelsea Hopkins-Allan in Albany, Western Australia, raises the question, how did the butterfly make it across the Nullabor to our western state?! Well, it has probably extended its range due to planting of Citrus, its favoured food plant, but climate change may be allowing it to persist in areas where it is not normally found. We don’t know the answer but your sightings to ClimateWatch help us understand its movements.

Thank you to our ClimateWatchers keeping an eye out for seasonal changes in the natural world. Both natural and agricultural landscapes benefit from the sightings made by citizen scientists.

Inpsired by the butterfly sightings in her local area, Chelsea has featured the Orchard Swallowtail in her artwork (see it Instagram @ChelseaHopkinsAllan_Art). Her work will be included in The Waterhouse Art Prize at the South Australian Museum June through to August.

We love people getting inspired by the natural world!