Suniana sunias (C. Felder, 1860)
Orange Dart
(previously known as Pamphila sunias)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Suniana sunias
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This caterpillar is green with a brown head. It has been found feeding on :

  • Southern Cut Grass ( Leersia hexandra ),
  • Guinea Grass ( Panicum maximum ),
  • Vasey Grass ( Paspalum urvillei ), and
  • Wild Sudan Grass ( Sorghum verticilliflorum ),

    all of POACEAE. The caterpillar rests in a shelter made from blades of the foodplant joined with silk.

    Suniana sunias
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 2 cms. It pupates in its shelter, head upward.

    Suniana sunias
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, South Stradbroke Island, Queensland)

    The upper side of the adult butterfly is dark brown with bright orange markings across each wing. The males have a black line across part of each forewing.

    Suniana sunias
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, South Stradbroke Island, Queensland)

    Underneath, the wings are pale brown with orange and darker brown patches. The wingspan is about 2.5 cms.

    Suniana sunias
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The eggs are laid singly on a foodplant leaf. They are hemispherical and initially white. As they deveop, they acquire red markings.

    The species is found as various races in

  • Indonesia,
  • Solomons, and
  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia, three races have been recognised :

  • sauda Waterhouse, 1937, in the Northern Territory,
  • rectivitta (Mabile, 1878) in Queensland and New South Wales,
  • nola (Waterhouse, 1932) along the coast of Queensland.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 211-212.

    Baron Cajetan von Felder,
    Lepidopterorum Amboienensium species novae diagnosibus,
    Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien,
    Volume 40, Series 11 (1860), p. 462, No. 54.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the Wide-brand Grass-dart, Suniana sunias rectivitta (C.Felder, 1860) Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 15-18.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 230.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 16 September 2010, 29 September 2013, 31 May 2020)