Adults: The leading edge of the wing has a dark brown bar and two dark brown spots. The dorsal (top) forewing tips are black with white spots; there is also a black eyespot on the forewing. Seen from below, the hindwing has a row of blue spots surrounded by black, yellow and brown concentric rings.
Similar species: The tawny emperor (A. clyton) doesn’t have white spots on dark forewing tips, lacks the black eyespot and has two bars at the leading edge of the forewing, not a bar and two spots.
Larvae are green with yellow-green and white stripes. The last segment is forked, and the head has two projections covered with spines.