Don Herbison-Evans (
(Photo from: "Flying Colours", Coupar & Coupar, 1992)
The eggs of this species are white and mandarin shaped, with a diameter of about 1 mm. They are laid in small clusters of one to six on loose bark of Mistletoe host plants.
The Caterpillar is flat and pinkish-brown with dark markings and a dark dorsal line. It is often attended by ants of various genera including :
The Caterpillar feeds nocturnally on Mistletoes ( LORANTHACEAE ), such as:
which are variously parasitic on :
The Caterpillars are gregarious and may be found during the day hiding under the bark of a tree on which the foodplant is a parasite. The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 2.5 cms.
Pupation occurs under loose bark. The pupa is smooth and brown with a length of about 1.5 cms.
The male adults are purple on top with black margins.
The females are brown on top with a large cream patch on each forewing.
Underneath, the fore wings are dark brown, with yellow wing tips. The undersides of the hind wings have a complex brown pattern. The males have some white crescent markings on the underside of the fore wings, and the females have a large cream spot. The butterflies have a wing span of about 4 cms.
Always easy to spot but much harder to catch, adults fly around eucalypt canopies and feed off their sap rather than flowers, so rarely come near ground level. The easiest way to obtain one is to search the mistletoe foodplants for larvae or pupae. The species occurs in the high country in
Further reading :
Michael F. Braby,
Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 693-694.
(updated 22 December 2012, 21 September 2013)