Identification Key to Some Common Butterflies

Below is an identification key I created, which includes some of the most common butterfly species found in the Central Queensland area. The key uses clearly visible features such as size, colour, and spots, so may not correctly identify all variations of a species. The butterflies which make up the key are:

  • Caper White (Belenois java teutonia)
  • Small Grass-yellow (Eurema smilax)
  • Clearwing Swallowtail (Cressida Cressida)
  • Glasswing (Acraea andromacha)
  • Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)
  • Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)
  • Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)
  • Common Grass-blue (Zizina labradus)
  • Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus)
  • Varied Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina)
  • Common Crow (Euploea core)

Dichotomous Key

1a           Small wingspan; typically <35 mm across            3
1b           Wingspan >35 mm across                                          2

2a           Medium wingspan; typically 40-70 mm              6
2b           Large wingspan; typically >75 mm                        4

3a           Mainly yellow coloured; black along outer edge of forewings
Eurema smilax
3b           Wings grey with violet blue                                       Zizina labradus

4a           Hind wings scalloped with red spots; forewings wholly or partly
transparent                                                                    5
4b           Velvet black; bright purple or orange spots on wings
Hypolimnas bolina

5a           Forewings wholly transparent with two large black spots; no blue present; red on
abdomen and around head                                         Cressida cressida
5b           Forewings only partly transparent; blue hints on upper and/or underside of
hindwing                                                                          Papilio aegeus

6a           Wings mainly brown and/or orange                        7
6b           Wings not mainly brown or orange                         9

7a           Relatively small (40-50 mm); many orange patches on hind and forewings
7b           Larger (60-75 mm); mainly brown coloured; orange patch on forewing enclosing
two dark spots with white centres; numerous vivid ‘eyespots’ underneath
Melanitis leda

8a           Mainly brown; two spots on each wing, consisting of orange, black and purple
rings; underside grey with one dark spot on forewings visible
Junonia villida
8b           Mainly orange; black with white spots on edge of forewings; four small blue spots
ringed with black on hindwing; underside red, orange and brown with intricate
patterning                                                                         Vanessa kershawi

9a           Wings mainly black with many white spots; no other colours visible
Euploea core
9b           Wings mainly white, yellow or transparent on upperside

10a         Forewings transparent; hindwings cream and black with yellow spots on trailing
edge; abdomen with black and yellow patterning
Acraea andromacha
10b         Wings mainly white or yellow; black on edges of all wings, with pale spots; bright
yellow on underside; black veins clearly visible on underside
Belenois java teutonia


A PDF of the key, which includes information and photographs of each species, is available here.



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