Praetaxila segecia (Hewitson, 1864)
Australian Harlequin
(previously known as Sospita segecia)
RIODININAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Peter R. Samson, S.J. Johnson, P.R. Wilson,
and
Stella Crossley

Praetaxila segecia
(Photo : courtesy of The Australian Entomologist)

This Caterpillar is hairy and greenish grey, with orange around each spiracle, and an orange head and tail.

Young caterpillars have two raised black spots on the thorax, but these become less evident in later instars. The caterpillar hides by day, and is known to feed nocturnally on :

  • Rapanea porosa ( PRIMULACEAE ).

    The caterpillars are unusual for Lycaenids in that they appear to have no association with ants. The caterpillars grow to a length of about 3 cms.

    Praetaxila segecia
    pupa
    (Photo : courtesy of The Australian Entomologist)

    The pupa is brown and hairy, and attached by the tail and a central girdle, and has a length of about 2 cms.

    Praetaxila segecia
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adult butterflies are dimorphic. The males are dark brown on top, with a diagonal white bar and white spots near the apex on each forewing.

    Praetaxila segecia
    Female
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The females have similar forewings, but each has a large brown patch by the base, and the hindwings are totally brown.

    Praetaxila segecia
    Male, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Underneath, both sexes are brown with the white diagonal bar and black and white spots by the base and apex.

    Praetaxila segecia
    Female, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The hindwings each each have arc of white edged black spots around the margin, as well as other white, brown and black markings. The butterflies have a wingspan up to 5 cms.

    Praetaxila segecia
    (Photo : courtesy of The Australian Entomologist)

    The eggs are barrel-shaped and purple. They are have a diameter of about 0.7 mm. They are laid in small groups under leaves of a foodplant. When the Caterpillar hatches, its first act is to eat the eggshell.

    Praetaxila segecia
    (Photo : courtesy of The Australian Entomologist)

    The species is found as several subspecies in

  • New Guinea.

    The subspecies punctaria (Fruhstorfer, 1904) is found in Australia in

  • north Queensland.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, 2000, Volume 2, pp. 855-856.

    William Chapman Hewitson,
    Pieris II,
    Illustrations of new species of exotic butterflies,
    London, Volume 1 (1853), p. 76,, and Plate 39, figs. 4-6.

    Max S. Moulds,
    Notes on the distribution and adult behaviour of Praetaxila segecia punctaria (Fruhstorfer) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Riodininae),
    Australian Entomological Magazine,
    Volume 18, Number3 (1991), pp. 113-114.

    Peter R. Samson, S.J. Johnson, & P.R. Wilson,
    The life history of Praetaxila segecia punctaria (Fruhstorfer) (Lepidoptera:Lycaenidae:Rodininae),
    The Australian Entomologist,
    Volume 26 (1999), pp. 57-63.


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    (updated 23 March 2010, 23 November 2013)