Hesperilla flavescens Waterhouse, 1927
Yellow Sedge or Altona Skipper
TRAPEZITINAE,   HESPERIIDAE,   HESPERIOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

This Caterpillar is smooth and green, with a dark dorsal line. The head is brownish with a black 'V' mark. The caterpillar feeds on various species of Sword Grass (CYPERACEAE), especially:

  • Chaffy Saw Sedge ( Gahnia filum ).


    larval shelter, tube mouth on left, leaves joined on the right.
    (Photo: by David De Angelis, courtesy of Graham Jury, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The caterpillar constructs a shelter out of several blades of grass joined together with silk, it which it rests by day. The caterpillar emerges to feed at night. In due course, the caterpillar pupates in its shelter.


    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO: Ecosystem Sciences)

    The adult butterfly is dark brown fading to yellow at the base of each wing. Each wing also has a yellow patch, and each fore wing also has a number of small white spots. The males have a dark line acros part of each forewing. Underneath, the wings are fawn. There are brown and yellow patches under the fore wings, and there is an arc of outlined white spots under each hind wing. The wing span is about 3 cms.


    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Museum Victoria)

    The eggs are white and laid singly under the leaves of a foodplant.

    The species is found as two sub-species in small areas of south-eastern Australia :

  • flavescens near Altona and Ararat, in Victoria, and
  • flavia Waterhouse, 1941, near Adelaide in South Australia.
  • The latter is considered to be in danger of extinction, and a recovery plan has been proposed for the subspecies.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 155-156.

    Gustavus Athol Waterhouse,
    Australian Hesperiidae. Part I. Notes and descriptions of new forms,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Volume 52 (1927), p. 279, and also Plate 26, figs. 17, 18.


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    (updated 27 November 2004, 10 November 2014)