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

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

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

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 and sedges, such as :

  • Blady Grass ( Imperata cylindrica, POACEAE ),
  • Common Reed ( Phragmites australis, POACEAE ),
  • Johnson Grass ( Sorghum halepense, POACEAE ),
  • Vasey Grass ( Paspalum urvillei, POACEAE ),
    as well as
  • Rough Saw-sedge ( Gahnia aspera, CYPERACEAE ).

    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, and
  • Taiwan,

    and has two subspecies in Australia :

  • baudina Evans, 1949, in north Western Australia and the Northern Territory,
    and
  • ancilla along the eastern seaboard, including: Queensland, and New South Wales.

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


    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)