Parnara amalia (Semper, [1879])
Hyaline Swift
(one synonym : Hesperilla fulgidus Miskin, 1889)
HESPERIINAE ,   HESPERIIDAE ,   HESPERIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Parnara amalia
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar feeds on the leaves of various POACEAE, including:

  • Southern Cut Grass ( Leersia hexandra ), and
  • Rice ( Oryza sativa ).

    Parnara amalia
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    Its foodplants often grow beside dams or creeks. The final instar larva is inclined to eat the leaf below where it is positioned, so chopping itself off, and ending up on the ground or in the water. The final instar has four white lumps along each side. These appear to be wax producing glands. The caterpillar covers itself with wax as it pupates in its final piece of leaf of its foodplant, making its pupal shelter waterproof. Thus the pupa in its little grass shelter can happily float away to pastures new.

    Parnara amalia
    (Specimen: courtesy of The Australian Museum)

    The adult butterfly is dark brown with an orange shading across the wings, and with a series of white spots on each fore wing which are actually translucent. These are the origin of its name: 'hyalos' in Greek means 'glass'.

    Parnara amalia
    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monoghan, taken in Worba Park, Queensland)

    The underside is nearly identical to the upper surface, but paler. The wing span is about 3 cms.

    The species is thought to be important for the pollination in commercial Cashew Nut plantations.

    Parnara amalia
    underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of The Australian Museum)

    The species is found in:

  • New Guinea,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.


    Further reading :

    Andrew Atkins,
    The Water-borne Voyages of the Orange Swift: 'Avast me hearties, amalia armada to starboard'!,
    Metamorphosis Australia Issue 53 (June 2009), pp. 14-17,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 242-243.


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    (updated 19 March 2011, 4 September 2014)