Euschemon rafflesia (W.S. Macleay, 1826 )
Regent Skipper
(previously known as Hesperia rafflesiae)
PYRGINAE ,   HESPERIIDAE ,   HESPERIOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Euschemon rafflesia
(Photo: courtesy of Peter R. Samson, Sugar Research Australia, Mackay)

These caterpillars live in a shelter made of two leaves joined by silk. They normally feed nocturnally, on plants from the family MONIMIACEAE, including:

  • Jiman ( Steganthera laxiflora ),
  • Tetra Beech ( Tetrasynandra pubescens ),
  • Veiny Wilkiea ( Wilkiea huegeliana ), and
  • Large Leafed Wilkiea ( Wilkiea macrophylla ).

    Euschemon rafflesia
    (Photo: courtesy Brett Howton, Narangba, Queensland)

    The Caterpillars are green with white stripes, and yellow ends containing black spots. The head is black. They have a pair of short fleshy horns on the thorax.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    (Photo: courtesy of David Johnston)

    The pupa is white with black markings, formed in the larval shelter, and held by a cremaster and girdles.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    (Photo: courtesy of Kath Vail, Middle Pocket, New South Wales)

    The adult butterflies are dark brown on top with yellow and blue markings on the wings. Underneath, they are greenish with yellow and blue markings. In museum specimens, the blue markings fade away. The abdomen on top is banded in black and yellow, with a red tip. The undersides of the head and the abdomen are scarlet. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 5 cms.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    This species is unique, in that it is the only butterfly species to have a frenulum : bristles at the base of the hindwings linking the fore and hind wings together for flying. The frenelum is missing in all other species of butterflies, but present in many species of moths.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    (Photo: courtesy of Peter R. Samson,
    Bureau of Sugar Experiment Station, Mackay)

    The eggs of this species are spherical and ribbed. They are laid singly on a foodplant, normally on the underside of a leaf.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    (Photo: courtesy of Kath Vail, Middle Pocket, NSW)

    This species occurs only over sections of the north-east coast of Queensland and New South Wales as two subspecies :

  • alba Mabille, [1903], from Cooktown to Mackay, and
  • rafflesia from Rockhampton to Kempsey.

    Euschemon rafflesia
    ( Australia Post, 1981)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp 62-63.

    William Sharp Macleay,
    Annulosa,
    in Philip Parker King :
    Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia,
    Volume 2 (1826), Appendix B, pp. 463-464, No. 162.


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    (updated 14 March 2011, 22 September 2013)