Taractrocera dolon (Plötz, 1884)
River-sand Grass-dart
(previously known as Apaustus dolon)
Don Herbison-Evans,
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
    (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.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

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