Ocybadistes flavovittatus (Latreille, [1824])
Common Dart
(formerly known as Taractrocera flavovittata)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Ocybadistes flavovittatus
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

This Caterpillar is initially yellow with a black head. Later instars are green with a black and white head, and a darker line running along the back.

The foodplants of the caterpillar are various

  • Grasses (POACEAE)

    The caterpillar lives on its own within a frond of grass, which is curled and closed with strands of silk to form a shelter. It grows to a length of about 1 cm. To us, the caterpillar was indistinguishable from that of the related species Ocybadistes walkeri. Most of these caterpillars we found in Melbourne were Ocybadistes walkeri, and most of them found in Sydney were Ocybadistes flavovittatus.

    The caterpillar pupates in its grass shelter.

    Ocybadistes flavovittatus
    upper surface
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The butterfly is brown with an orange/yellow pattern on the wings. The male has a black line on the top of each forewing. Underneath, both sexes are yellow tending to brown toward the rear of each wing. When the butterfly is at rest, it often poses with the fore wings vertical and the hind wings horizontal. It has a wingspan of about 1.5 cm.

    Ocybadistes flavovittatus
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Each egg of this species is laid singly on a foodplant. The eggs are off-white and spherical with a flat bottom. They stay white throughout maturation.

    Ocybadistes flavovittatus

    The species is found as the subspecies kokoda Evans, 1949, in

  • New Guinea,

    and as two further subspecies in Australia :
    flavovittatus in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales,

    and vesta (Waterhouse, 1932) in the

  • Northern Territory, and
  • the north of Western Australia.

    Ocybadistes flavovittatus

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 202-203.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life History Notes on the Narrow-brand Grass-dart, Ocybadistes flavovittata flavovittata (Latreille, [1824])
    and the Greenish Grass-dart, Ocybadistes walkeri sothis (Waterhouse 1933) Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 54 (September 2009), pp. 16-20.

    Pierre André Latreille,
    Histoire Naturelle: Insectes,
    in P.A. Latreille & J.B. Godart : Encyclopedie Methodique,
    Volume 9, Part 2 (1824), p. 768, No. 114.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 2 October 2002, 3 January 2024)