Australia 2003 Butterflies & Bugs

From Stamps of the World
Australia 2003 Butterflies & Bugs 50c a.jpg
  • Issue Date: 24 September 2003
  • Designed by: Graeme Base
  • Printed by: SNP Sprint
  • Print Process: Lithography
  • Dimensions: 37.5mm x 26mm


Bugs and butterflies fascinate children (and a great many adults). This year we are inviting children to ‘hop into stamps’ with Bugs and Butterflies during Stamp Collecting Month. There are two issue sheets each featuring three stamp designs. This issue is illustrated by Graeme Base with the elaborate detail and hidden images that characterise his popular, award-winning work.


Sheet Stamps

  • Perforations: 14 x 14¾
  • Format: sheets of 50 (2 panes of 25 with gutter)

Ulysses Butterfly

This icon of far north Queensland makes a spectacular sight, especially when the butterfly’s brilliant metallic blue and velvety black features are seen against the backdrop of dark rainforest foliage.

50c Ulysses Butterfly (Papilio ulysses joesa)

Leichhardt’s Grasshopper

This is one of Australia’s most brightly coloured grasshoppers. It is found in the rugged sandstone country in the Top End of the Northern Territory. The adult’s vivid colouring – orange-red, with royal blue and black patterns – warns potential predators that this bug may not taste as good as it looks.

50c Leichhardt’s Grasshopper (Petasida ephippigera)

Vedalia Ladybird

Their bright colours and contrasting spots make ladybirds one of the best known beetle families in Australia. Most ladybirds are carnivorous. They eat other insects, including pests such as aphids, scale insects and mites. Their diet – and being a sign of good luck to come – makes ladybirds welcome in any garden.

50c Vedalia Ladybird (Rodolia cardinalis)

Green Mantid

Its size (its body can be up to 120 mm long) and its posture (with forelegs held together as if praying) make this bug easy to recognise. It’s also quite common – it is found almost everywhere in Australia. Many species are camouflaged to blend with a particular environment or background, such as flowers, rocks or tree trunks, so they aren’t easy to see. This sort of camouflage is handy for predators. Just ask the captive damselfly in the grips of the green mantid on the stamp.

50c Green Mantid (Orthodera ministralis)
and Damselfly

Emperor Gum Moth Caterpillar

These common Australian insects can grow to 120 mm in length and are found in forests and woodlands throughout the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. This caterpillar is bright green with red and blue lumps along the body. The lumps are topped with non-stinging hairs. A yellow line runs along each side of the body. When the angle of light is just right the yellow line can be mistaken for a leaf’s mid-rib.

50c Emperor Gum Moth Caterpillar (Opodiphthera eucalypti)

Fiddler Beetle

Beetles are the largest and most diverse order of insects. This one takes its common name from a violin-shaped pattern in its mostly dark brown shell. The fiddler beetle is found from top to bottom of the eastern half of Australia.

50c Fiddler Beetle (Eupoecila australasiae)

Se-tenant Strips

Se-tenant strip of 3 x 50c (butterfly)
Se-tenant strip of 3 x 50c (mantid)

Self-adhesive Stamps

  • Perforations: serpentine die cut 11 x 11¼
  • Formats: booklets of 10 and coils of 100

Single Stamps

50c Ulysses Butterfly
50c Leichhardt’s Grasshopper
50c Vedalia Ladybird
50c Green Mantid and Damselfly
50c Emperor Gum Moth Caterpillar
50c Fiddler Beetle

Coil Strip

Coil strip of 6 x 50c


$5 booklet cover
Booklet pane of 10 x 50c

Miniature Sheet

The miniature sheet features additional creatures, including a large and very colourful male birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera priamus). These butterflies prefer to keep to the treetops where they cruise around with a gliding flight. Birdwings are internationally protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Also to be found, although perhaps not immediately, are a stick insect, ant, slater, weevil, moth, scorpion, cicada, lacewing, crane fly, centipede, mosquito and dragonfly. These creatures are hidden within the design. This design technique is one of the hallmarks of the work of Graeme Base.

Miniature sheet of 6 x 50c

First Day Covers

The first day of issue postmark was Canberra ACT 2600.

First day cover - sheet stamps
First day cover - self-adhesive stamps
First day cover - miniature sheet

Maximum Cards

50c Ulysses Butterfly maximum card
50c Leichhardt’s Grasshopper maximum card
50c Vedalia Ladybird maximum card
50c Green Mantid and Damselfly maximum card
50c Emperor Gum Moth Caterpillar maximum card
50c Fiddler Beetle maximum card

Presentation Pack

Presentation pack front cover
Presentation pack back cover
Presentation pack of two se-tenant strips of 3 x 50c and miniature sheet