Crow, the oleander butterfly
Also called common Australian crow butterfly, common crow butterfly, oleander butterfly
Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Let me introduce myself. I'm Calamvale Crow. I got my name because beautiful black and white butterflies like me are called crow butterflies.
How we got that name is anyone's guess. Maybe it's because we look black like crows.
It can't be because crows eat us, because we taste disgusting to birds. We make sure we feed on plants that have special chemicals that let us produce poisons that will make some birds vomit if they eat us. (Some critters don't mind the bad taste, so I stay away from the spiders and dragonflies around the creek.)
What do I eat?
I like oleander plants, and that's why I am also known as the “oleander butterfly”.
I like milkweeds and native figs, Chilean jasmine, and rubber vine. I like numerous plants in the Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, and Moraceae families.
The creek here at Calamvale in Brisbane, Australia, and nearby gardens in houses, have some delicious plants that I love.
How long will I live?
Most crow butterflies live for only one to three months — but that's equivalent to about 70 human years, so don't feel sorry for me. I can get a lot of fluttering, feeding, and resting done in that time. What a full life! And I look so pretty!
Like monarch butterflies and blue tiger butterflies, we congregate in large numbers over winter and go into a kind of dormant state called overwintering. This can extend our lifespan by many months over winter when our food source is scarce.
Another interesting thing about crow butterflies is that we have only four normal legs. Insects are supposed to have six. Well, we do really have six, but our first two legs never fully develop. We think that's why we are so beautiful.
You may see us anywhere around Calamvale Creek or in nearby gardens from spring through to autumn.
— Crow the butterfly
A millimetre from death!
Less than one millimetre separates the butterfly from the spider's mouth.
Fortunately for the butterfly, leaf-curling spiders are shy little critters, and unless this spider becomes extremely hungry, she will prefer to wait until insects get caught in her web before venturing out. So this butterfly had a lucky escape.