Taractrocera dolon (Plötz, 1884)
Sandy Grass Dart
(previously known as Apaustus dolon)
HESPERIINAE,   HESPERIIDAE,   HESPERIOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Taractrocera dolon
early instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

Early instars of these Caterpillars are green with black heads.


late instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

Late instars develop two white oval outlines on the head.

Taractrocera dolon
close-up of head of late instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

The caterpillars have beeen found feeding on

  • Wild Sorghum ( Sorghum verticilliflorum, POACEAE ).

    Each caterpillar lives in a shelter formed by joining the outer edges of a leaf blade together with threads of silk, so that the result sometimes looks like a silk ladder.

    Taractrocera dolon
    grassy shelter
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The caterpillar rests facing upwards inside the shelter.

    Taractrocera dolon
    pupa in shelter
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is oval, with a dark brown head, and a pale brown thorax shading into a greenish abdomen. The pupa is formed in the leafy shelter, but is unattached, remaining in position by friction. The length of the pupa is about 1.2 cms.

    Taractrocera dolon
    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The adult butterflies are brown, with orange patches.

    Taractrocera dolon
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The undersides of the wings are a patchy orange with the same pattern of spots as on the top surfaces, only less pronounced. The males have a grey patch on the upper surface of each forewing. The antennae are clubbed, unlike the flattish and pointed antennae tip of other HESPERIIDAE. The adults of this species have a wingspan of about 2 cms.

    Taractrocera dolon
    female, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    This species occurs as the subspecies :

    diomedes Waterhouse, 1933, in
  • Western Australia,
  • Northen Territory,
  • and dolon in
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • Tasmania.
  • Taractrocera dolon
    young egg
      
    Taractrocera dolon
    older egg

    (Photos: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The eggs are white and laid singly on leaves of a foodplant. The eggs are dome-shaped, and intially white. After a few days they develop red patches.

    Taractrocera dolon
    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 197-198.

    Carl Plötz,
    Die Hesperiinen-Gattung Apaustus Hüb., und ihre Arten,
    Stettiner Entomologische Zeitung,
    Volume 45, Parts 4-6 (1884), p. 165, No. 59.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the River-sand Grass-dart Taractrocera dolon (Poltz, 1884) Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 93 (June 2019), pp. 22-26.


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    (updated 19 March 2011, 6 October 2013, 23 July 2019, 4 June 2020)