Telicota ancilla (Herrich-Schaffer, 1869)
Dark Palm Dart
(previously known as Pamphila ancilla)
HESPERIINAE,   HESPERIIDAE,   HESPERIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Telicota ancilla
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

The caterpillar is initially yellowish-green with dark lines along the body, and later becomes reddish-brown. The anal segment is unusual in being rather flat, and usually has a black mark on it. The caterpillar lives by day in a cylindrical shelter made by joining leaves together with silk, and by night emerges to feed on the leaves just below its shelter.

Telicota ancilla
head magnified
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

It feeds on various grasses (POACEAE) including

  • Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica),
  • Common Reed (Phragmites australis),
  • Johnson Grass (Sorghum halepense),
  • Vasey Grass (Paspalum urvillei),

    and sedges (CYPERACEAE), such as :

  • Rough Saw-sedge (Gahnia aspera).

    Telicota ancilla
    pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The caterpillar leaves its shelter to pupate, typically pupating in a curled leaf on the ground.

    Telicota ancilla
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adults are brown with orange patches. The males have a prominent grey line across part of each forewing.

    Telicota ancilla
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The undersides are greenish-yellow, with orange and brown patches. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms.

    Telicota ancilla
    Female, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    This species occurs as over much of south-east Asia, including:

  • India,
  • Indonesia,
  • New Guinea, and
  • Taiwan,

    and in Australia :

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

    Telicota ancilla
    Egg, highly magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    This caterpillar hatches from a white hemispherical egg laid singly on a foodplant leaf.

    Telicota ancilla
    Male, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)<

    A proposed subspecies baudina Evans, 1949, of Telicota ancilla has been shown actually to be a subspecies of Telicota augias.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 222-223.

    Gottlieb August Wilhelm Herrich-Schäffer,
    Neue Schmetterlinge aus dem "Museum Godeffroy" in Hamburg,
    Stettiner Entomologische Zeitung,
    Volume 30, Parts 1-3 (1869) p. 79, No. 59.


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    (updated 21 August 2011, 6 October 2013, 4 June 2020)