Hesperilla idothea (Miskin, 1889)
Flame Skipper
(one synonym : Telesto dispar Kirby, 1893)
TRAPEZITINAE ,   HESPERIIDAE ,   HESPERIOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley
and
Pat & Mike Coupar

Hesperilla idothea
(Photo from: "Flying Colours", Coupar & Coupar, 1992)

This is a smooth pale green Caterpillar with a dark dorsal line and a pale brown head. The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 3.5 cms. It lives in a tubular leaf shelter on its foodplant by day, feeding at night.

It has been found feeding on various Sword Grasses ( CYPERACEAE ) :

  • Saw Grass ( Gahnia aspera ),
  • Tall Saw Sedge ( Gahnia clarkei ),
  • Cutting Grass ( Gahnia grandis ),
  • Dark Fruited Saw Grass ( Gahnia melanocarpa ),
  • Thatch Saw Sedge ( Gahnia radula ),
  • Red Fruit Saw Sedge ( Gahnia sieberiana ),
  • Bog Saw Sedge ( Gahnia subaequiglumis ), and
  • Twine Rush ( Gahnia trifida ).

    Hesperilla idothea
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    It pupates in its tubular shelter. The pupa has a length of about 2 cms.

    Hesperilla idothea
    (Photo: courtesy of Donald Hobern, Katoomba, NSW)

    The adult butterflies are brown, with white spots on the forewings, orange marks on the hind wings, and a wingspan of about 4 cms. The males have rather larger markings than the females, and a thin black line across most of each forewing.

    Hesperilla idothea
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The underside is pale brown, with black and white markings on the forewings. The males are plain pale brown under the hindwings, but the females are pale brown with an arc of several small black-encircled spots under each hindwing.

    Hesperilla idothea
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species is found along the south-eastern seaboard of Australia, including

  • southern Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia,

    as two races :

  • idothea, and
  • clara Waterhouse, 1932.
  • Hesperilla idothea
    underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp 151-152.

    William Henry Miskin,
    Note on some undescribed Australian Lepiodoptera (Heterocera),
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland,
    Volume 6 (1889), p. 152.


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    (updated 6 March 2013, 21 September 2013)