Toxidia rietmanni (Semper, [1879])
White Brand Skipper
(previously known as Telesto rietmanni)
TRAPEZITINAE,   HESPERIIDAE,   HESPERIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Toxidia rietmanni
mature caterpillar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar is initially green with a black head. As the caterpillar matures, it becomes brown with obscure darker lines along the body. The head is a mottled dark brown. The caterpillar folds leaves or joins leaves together with silk, to make a tubular shelter in which it rests by day, facing downwards. The caterpillar emerges to feed at night, feeding on a number of grasses (POACEAE), and is thought to favour:

  • Bordered Panic Grass ( Entolasia marginata ),
  • Graceful Panic Grass ( Ottochloa gracillima ), and
  • Dwarf Panic Grass ( Panicum pygmaeum ).

    Toxidia rietmanni
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    As the caterpillar grows, it constructs larger shelters for itself. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 2 cms. It pupates in its last shelter.

    Toxidia rietmanni
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The adult butterfly of this species has brown wings, with two or three white splotches on each forewing. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 2.5 cms.

    Toxidia rietmanni
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The male butterfly has a sex brand consisting of a white zigzag line outlined in black on each forewing.

    Toxidia rietmanni
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The eggs are laid singly, usually on foodplant leaves. The eggs are hemispherical with ribs, and initially are white. Ater a few days they develop reddish markings.

    Toxidia rietmanni
    egg after 2 days
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    Two main races of this species are found along the east coast of Australia :

  • parasema (Lower, 1908) in northern Queensland, and
  • rietmanni in southern Queensland and in New South Wales.

    Toxidia rietmanni
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp 132-133.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the White-brand Grass-skipper, Toxidia rietmanni rietmanni (Semper, [1879]) Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 92 (March 2019), pp. 9-13,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Gorg Semper,
    Beitrag zur Rhopalocerenfauna von Australien,
    Journal des Museum Godeffroy,
    Volume 5, Heft 14 (1879) p. 187, No. 171.


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    (updated 2 May 2008, 29 September 2013, 17 March 2019)