Tisiphone abeona (Donovan, 1805)
Swordgrass Brown
(one synonym : Oreas zelinde Hübner, [1808])
SATYRINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
( donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Tisiphone abeona
final instar
(Photo: courtesy of Ross Kendall,
Butterfly Encounters, Indooroopilly, Queensland)

These Caterpillars are green with indistinct longitudinal lines. Initially they are sparsely covered in long thin hairs, but later instars are sort of fuzzy. They have a forked tail which is quite harmless.

The Caterpillars feed on various species of :

  • Swordgrass ( Gahnia species, CYPERACEAE )

    which are tall sedges with sharply edged leaves. The Caterpillars grow to a length of about 6 cms.

    Tisiphone abeona
    (Photo: courtesy of R.P. Field; © Museum Victoria)

    The pupa is green with a yellow line around the developing wings. It is suspended head down, by a cremaster, from a leaf of its food plant.

    Tisiphone abeona
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The wings of the adult butterflies are brown with a broad yellow stripe diagonally across each forewing. The forewings also each have two eyespots, one large and one small, and the hind wings have one eyespot each.

    Tisiphone abeona
    Underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The undersides are similar, except that each wing has two eyespots. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    Tisiphone abeona
    (Photo: courtesy of Anthea Flemming)

    The species is found along the south-eastern coastal strip of Australia, from Gympie, through Victoria, to Adelaide, in which area several subspecies have been recognised :

  • abeona in New South Wales south of the Hunter River,
  • albifascia in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia,
  • antoni in New South Wales, and South Australia,
  • aurelia in mid New South Wales,
  • joanna in New South Wales,
  • morrisi in coastal northern New South Wales,
  • regalis in the mountains of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, and
  • rawnsleyi in coastal southern Queensland.
  • Tisiphone abeona
    ( Australia Post, 1981)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 523-525.

    John Moss,
    Varied Swordgrass Brown Butterfly, Tisiphone abeona (Donovan, 1805) - a personal and historical perspective.
    Butterfly and Other Invertebrates Club Newslettter, Issue 49 (June 2008), pp. 4-10.

    Chris J. Muller,
    New Gahnia Forst. & Forst. F. food plant records for Hesperilla ornata ornata (Leach) and Tisaphone abeona regalis Waterhouse (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae and Nymphalidae) in New South Wales.
    Australian Entomological Magazine, Vol. 19, Part 4 (1992) p. 102.


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    (updated 22 April 2009, 20 September 2013)