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

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) including:

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

    and grows to a length of about 4 cms.

    The caterpillar pupates in its leaf shelter.

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

    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
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay)

    Trapezites symmomus
    (Photo: courtesy of Paul Kay)

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

    The species is considered to be vulnerable.

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

    Trapezites symmomus egg
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Orbost, Victoria)

    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
    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.

    Further reading :

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

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 42, 64.

    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, 6 June 2020, 5 September 2021)