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What butterfly is bright green?

What butterfly is bright green?

There are a few different butterflies that exhibit bright green coloring. The most commonly seen bright green butterfly in many parts of the world is the Green-banded Swallowtail. This large, beautiful butterfly has vibrant green bands on its wings that make it stand out amongst other butterflies. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Green-banded Swallowtail and other butterflies that feature striking green hues.

Green-banded Swallowtail

The Green-banded Swallowtail (Papilio demolion) is a large butterfly that can be found in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. Some of the areas it inhabits include southern Asia, Australia, and various Pacific and Indian Ocean islands.

This butterfly has lime green bands that run horizontally across the top of its wings. The upper portions of the wings are black, while the lower portions are yellow. The green bands contrast sharply with the black and yellow. When the Green-banded Swallowtail is flying, the flash of emerald on its wings is unmistakable.

The vibrant green bands are thought to serve as a warning signal to potential predators that the butterfly is toxic or distasteful. This phenomenon is known as aposematic coloration. The striking appearance of the Green-banded Swallowtail immediately catches the eye, allowing predators to quickly learn to avoid it.

In addition to its visual defenses, the Green-banded Swallowtail is equipped with a stinky orange fluid that it can secrete from glands near its abdomens. The foul-smelling liquid provides further disincentive for predators to attack.

Emerald Swallowtail

A close relative of the Green-banded Swallowtail is the Emerald Swallowtail (Papilio palinurus). As its name suggests, this butterfly also has beautiful green markings, but they cover more of the wing surface compared to the Green-banded Swallowtail.

The Emerald Swallowtail is found in southeast Asia, Indonesia, and parts of Australia. Its wings feature large emerald green patches outlined in black. There are also striking rays of blue scaling near the tail. When resting with closed wings, the Emerald Swallowtail is camouflaged, showing mostly mottled brown, black, and white patterning. But when it opens its wings to fly, the gorgeous green and blue hues are on full display.

Like the Green-banded Swallowtail, the Emerald Swallowtail uses its showy appearance as a warning signal to scare off predators. It too can release a foul odor from glands near its abdomen for additional protection.

Lime Butterfly

Whereas the previous two swallowtails exhibit green bands or patches, the aptly named Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus) is almost entirely bright green. It is sometimes also referred to as the Lime Swallowtail.

This butterfly is found across southern and southeast Asia. Its wings are primarily rich green on both the upper and lower surfaces. There are just small accents of black and a thin yellow and black margin around the edges. When closed, the Lime Butterfly closely resembles a green leaf, providing excellent camouflage.

In addition to its green wings, the Lime Butterfly has two short tails extending from the lower wings. These false tails serve to divert attacks by predators away from the butterfly’s body. Like its relatives, the Lime Butterfly has a foul taste and smell that deters predators once they make an attempt to eat it.

Green Dragontail

Shifting from swallowtails to another family of butterflies, the Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges) exhibits gorgeous green hues in tropical forest habitats throughout southeast Asia. It belongs to the brush-footed butterfly family known as Nymphalidae.

As its name indicates, the Green Dragontail has a pointed, dragontail-like extension on each hindwing. The upper surfaces of the wings are deep green, while the undersides are paler green dotted with white speckles for camouflage.

This toxic butterfly uses its bright coloration as a warning signal to predators. If disturbed, it can release a distasteful fluid from glands near its legs. Interestingly, the Green Dragontail flashes its brightly colored upper wings when threatened, suddenly revealing its vibrant markings that are hidden at rest.

Green-spotted Triangle

Another tropical Asian butterfly sporting glossy green markings is the Green-spotted Triangle (Graphium agamemnon). Found in forests and gardens, this large butterfly has elongated forewings that give it a triangular shape in flight.

The upper surfaces of the wings are black with bright emerald green spots and triangular markings along the edges and tips. In some subspecies, the brilliant green coloring extends to form broad bands on the wings. The undersides are mottled brown, black, and white for camouflage when the butterfly is at rest.

Like others on this list, the Green-spotted Triangle uses its striking green and black patterns to signal its toxicity to potential predators. It has chemical defenses that make it unpalatable.


In the family of brush-footed butterflies, the Malachite (Siproeta stelenes) is yet another tropical species bearing vibrant green wings. It is found in rainforests and other wet, wooded habitats in Central and South America.

The Malachite has forewings that are velvety black on the upper surfaces. Its hindwings are predominantly brilliant green, giving rise to its common name which references the green mineral malachite. The undersides of the wings have bands of pale brown and white for camouflage.

In addition to using its bright colors as a warning, the Malachite can release a nasty-smelling acid from leg glands when threatened. This combination of visual and chemical deterrents help protect it from predators.

Green Hairstreak

The Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) belongs to the family Lycaenidae, known as the gossamer-winged butterflies. It can be found across much of Europe and temperate Asia. This small butterfly has wings that are primarily dark brown on top, with bright green undersides.

When the Green Hairstreak settles with closed wings, it blends into its surroundings, with just a subtle hint of green visible along the edges. But when it opens its wings to fly, the emerald undersides flash conspicuously, startling potential predators.

In addition to its green underside, the Green Hairstreak also has a thin white line tracing the edges of its wings. This accentuates the contrast between the dark upperwings and light underwings when they are flashed open.

Butterfly Species Geographic Range Key Green Markings
Green-banded Swallowtail Southern Asia, Australia, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands Lime green bands on upper wings
Emerald Swallowtail Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia Large emerald green patches outlined in black
Lime Butterfly Southern and Southeast Asia Entirely bright green wings
Green Dragontail Southeast Asia Deep green upper wing surfaces with pointed tails
Green-spotted Triangle Tropical Asia Black wings with emerald green spots and markings
Malachite Central and South America Velvety black forewings, brilliant green hindwings
Green Hairstreak Europe, Temperate Asia Brown upperwings, bright green undersides

Toxicity and Mimicry

As illustrated by the examples above, many bright green butterflies have toxic or foul-tasting chemicals in their bodies that make them unpalatable to predators. Their conspicuous green markings serve to warn potential predators to stay away and avoid ingesting the toxins.

In fact, some non-toxic butterflies have evolved to mimic the appearance of toxic green species in order to gain protection. For instance, the non-toxic Common Mime (Chilasa clytia) mimics the appearance of the inedible Green-banded Swallowtail in India and Southeast Asia. By resembling distasteful species, harmless mimics deter predation while expending less resources on chemical defenses.


Tropical forests provide ideal conditions for green-colored butterflies like many of those profiled here. The warm, humid climate and abundance of greenery allow green pigments to thrive.

Within these habitats, green butterflies often reside high in the forest canopy where diffused sunlight illuminates their wings. The filtered light brings out the vivid green hues to their best effect. When closed, their predominantly green undersides provide camouflage against foliage.


Caterpillars are the main feeding and growing stage for butterflies. Many of the tropical green butterflies feed on plants in the genus Aristolochia as caterpillars. These evergreen vines contain toxic compounds that help provide chemical defenses for the butterflies.

As adults, green butterflies typically feed on the nectar of flowers. They use their long, coiled proboscis like a straw to draw up liquid nectar to fuel their activities. Butterflies prefer flowers with ample nectar sources like lantana, verbena, and milkweed.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of green butterflies begins when a female lays eggs, usually on the underside of leaves of the caterpillar’s host plant. After the eggs hatch, the caterpillars grow by molting their exoskeletons and eating leaves. The caterpillar then forms itself into a chrysalis attached to a stem.

Inside this protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, emerging as a beautiful winged adult butterfly. Different species have varying maturation times, but green butterflies typically take 3-4 weeks to fully develop from egg to adult.

As adults, the butterflies live for a few weeks up to several months. During this time they focus on reproducing and laying eggs to begin the next generation before they die. Their bright green colors help them find mates and pass on their vibrant hues.


While most butterflies sport colors like yellow, orange, or blue, bright green butterflies stand out for their brilliant emerald hues. Green-colored species like the Green-banded Swallowtail, Emerald Swallowtail, and Green Hairstreak exemplify this exotic beauty.

The vivid green acts as an effective warning signal due to toxicity in many of these butterflies. Mimics also adopt the green colors to fool predators. Tropical forests provide the ideal conditions for green pigments to thrive in butterflies. From caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, green butterflies have a fascinating life cycle intimately connected to their leafy environments.