Trapezites symmomus Hübner, 1823
Splendid Ochre
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Trapezites symmomus eggs
(Photo: courtesy David Johnston)

The eggs of this species are laid singly on leaves of a food plant. They are white with brown markings, and are hemispherical with vertical ridges. They have a diameter of about 1/2 mm.

Trapezites symmomus larva
(Photo courtesy of: Roger Grund, Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc.)

The Caterpillar is smooth and pale brown with faint longitudinal banding It has a large dark head with an inverted 'Y' mark on it. During the daytime, the caterpillar hides in a leaf shelter near the base of its food plant, and feeds nocturnally on various species of Mat-Rush ( ASPARAGACEAE ) :

  • Green Mat-Rush ( Lomandra hystrix ),
  • Spiny Headed Mat-Rush ( Lomandra longifolia ),
  • Fish Bones ( Lomandra obliqua ),
  • Joey Grass ( Lomandra spicata ), and
  • Romnalda strobilacea,

    and grows to a length of about 4 cms.

    The caterpillar pupates in its leaf shelter.

    Trapezites symmomus
    male, drawing by Jacob Hübner,
    Zuträge zur Sammlung exotischer Schmettlinge,
    Volume 1 (1823), Plate 40, Fig. 225,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The adult butterfly is brown, with a few white and yellow markings on the wings. It has a wingspan of about 5 cms.

    Trapezites symmomus
    male, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species is found mainly along the eastern side of mainland Australia as several subspecies, including :

  • sombra Waterhouse, 1932, in the tablelands of northern Queensland,
  • symmomus in southern Queensland and New South Wales, and
  • soma Waterhouse, 1932, in Victoria and South Australia.

    Trapezites symmomus
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The species is considered to be endangered

    Trapezites symmomus
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp 112-113.

    Murdoch De Baar,
    in Attracting insects and birds to gardens and consequential issues,
    Metamorphosis Australia
    Issue 50 (September 2008), p. 15,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Jacob Hübner,
    Zuträge zur Sammlung exotischer Schmettlinge,
    Volume 1 (1817), p. 10, No. 113, and also Plate 40, Figs. 225, 226.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 9 December 2009, 1 October 2013)