Elymnias agondas (Boisduval, 1832)
Palmfly
(previously known as : Dyctis agondas)
SATYRINAE,   NYMPHALIDAE,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

These Caterpillars are green with a yellow stripe along the back and yellow spots along each side. There are two black horns on the head, and two orange tentacles on the tail. The caterpillars grow to a length of about 4 cms. They are an agricultural pest, feeding on various Palms (ARECACEAE) including

  • African Oil Palm ( Elaeis guineensis ), and
  • Lawyer Vine ( Calamus caryotoides ).

    They feed nocturnally, resting by day under a leaf.

    The pupa is green with yellow and blue spots, also with two horns on the head, and hangs head down from a cremaster.


    underside (Photo: courtesy of David Lohman, Trangan Island, Indonesia)

    The male adult butterflies are black with a subterminal white arc on each wing, which is more extensive on the hindwings. The females have even larger white areas. The undersides of the forewings are similar to their upper surfaces. The undersides of the hindwings have a subterminal yellow arc containing an arc of black-ringed white spots. The wingspan of the butterflies is about 6 cms.

    It has been suggested that the patterns on the wings of this species have evolved to mimic those of the poisonous Taenaris and Hyantis butterfly species.

    Various subspecies of Elymnias agondas occur across Australasia, including :

  • glaucopis Staudinger, 1894, in
    New Guinea, and adjacent islands,

  • melanippe Grose-Smith, 1894, in
    Torres Strait,

    as well as

  • australiana Fruhstorfer, 1900, in Australia in
    Queensland on Cape York.


    Further reading :

    Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Dechauffour de Boisduval,
    Faune Entomologique de L'Ocean Pacifique,
    M. J. Dumont d'Urville:
    Voyage de Decouvertes de la Corvette l'Astrolabe,
    Division 7, Part 1 : Lepidopteres (1832), pp. 138-139, No. 2, and also Plate 3, fig. 5.

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 466-467.

    G.A. Wood,
    The life history of Elymnias agondas australiana Fruhstorfer (Lepidoptera:Nymphalidae),
    Australian Entomological Magazine,
    Volume 11 (1984), p. 3.


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    (updated 20 March 2004, 12 February 2013, 15 June 2020)