Badamia exclamationis (Fabricius, 1775)
Brown Awl
(one synonym : Papilio ladon Cramer, 1780)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Badamia exclamationis
(Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

This Caterpillar is smooth and yellow, with various black markings, including a dorsal line, and a transverse band between each pair of segments. The head is yellow with two transverse black stripes. It lives on its food plant in a shelter made from a leaf, folded over and held with silk. It feeds on:

  • False Almond ( Terminalia catappa, COMBRETACEAE ),
  • Yellow Wood ( Terminalia oblongata, COMBRETACEAE ),
  • Australian Damson ( Terminalia seriocarpa, COMBRETACEAE ), as well as
  • Pongam ( Pongamia pinnata, FABACEAE ) and
  • Timor Liana ( Rhyssopterys timorensis, MALPIGHIACEAE ),

    living in a partly folded leaf, open ended like a cup. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 5 cms.

    It pupates in a partly folded leaf, often away from the food plant.

    Badamia exclamationis
    drawing by Pieter Cramer, listed as Papilio ladon,
    Papilions exotiques des trois parties du monde l'Asie, l'Afrique et l'Amérique,
    Volume 3 (1782), Plate CCLXXXIV, fig. G,
    image courtesy of
    Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The male adult butterfly is dark brown with a series of white spots on each forewing. The females have only vestigial white spots.

    Badamia exclamationis
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Sydney)

    The undersides are similar to the upper surfaces. The hindwings of both sexes are unusual, in having a recurve along the margin near the tornus. The wing span is about 5 cms.

    The eggs are cream coloured and hemispherical. They are laid singly on young shoots of a food plant.

    Samoa, 1986

    The species is found across south-east Asia and the west Pacific, including

  • Fiji,
  • Hong Kong,
  • India,
  • Malaysia,
  • New Guinea,
  • Singapore,
  • Taiwan,

    as well as in Australia in:

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • Western Australia.

    The species is famous for its extensive migrations, southward some years, and northward in others. This butterfly species is also unique in having nocturnal migrations.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp 85-86.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae (1775), pp. 530-531, No. 373.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 30 July 2009, 22 September 2013, 1 February 2014, 13 December 2015, 1 September 2020)