Hypolimnas bolina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Blue Moon
NYMPHALINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Hypolimnas bolina
caterpillar with orange horns
(Photo: courtesy of Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, Brisbane, Queensland)

The common name for this species, Eggfly, is a reference to the white oval patch on the forewing of the male butterflies of this species.

The Caterpillar is cylindrical and black, with orange tubercles all over the body, and a pair of tubercles on its head which can be either black or orange.

Hypolimnas bolina
caterpillar with black horns
(Photo: courtesy of Donni Hakanson, Townsville, Queensland)

The Caterpillars have been reported feeding on plants from a variety of families, including:

  • Lesser Joyweed ( Alternanthera denticulata, AMARANTHACEAE ),
  • Cinderella Weed ( Synedrella nodiflora, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Sweet Potato ( Ipomaea batatas, CONVOLVULACEAE ),
  • Paddy's Lucerne ( Sida rhombifolia, MALVACEAE ),
  • Trailing Knotweed ( Persicaria prostrata, POLYGONACEAE ),
  • White Eye ( Richardia brasiliensis, RUBIACEAE ),
  • Eggplant ( Solanum melongena), SOLANACEAE ), and
  • Australian Mulberry ( Pipturus argenteus, URTICACEAE ).

    Hypolimnas bolina
    Caterpillar getting ready to pupate
    (Photo: courtesy Brett Howton, Narangba, Queensland)

    The caterpillars are intially communal, but later instars become solitary. They feed at night, hiding by day some distance from their foodplant. They can grow to a length of about 6 cms.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    (Specimen: courtesy Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour)

    The pupa is brown with black spikes. It hangs by a cremaster from a silk pad under a twig or leaf, and has a length of about 3 cms.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    male
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The adult male butterfly is black with a large white spot in middle of each wing. These spots are surrounded by a remarkable purple iridescence when viewed obliquely. The male wingspan is about 8 cms.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    female
    (Specimen: courtesy of Jonathan Tritter and the Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour)

    The female is similar but also has an orange mark on each forewing, and is much more variable in coloration.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    female with extra orange coloring
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The female is also larger, having a typical wingspan of about 9 cms.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    female with no orange coloring at all
    (Photo: courtesy of Linda Cooper, The Gold Coast, Queensland)

    The undersides of the wings of the females are brown with a diagonal white band and a curved arc of white spots on each wing.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    female underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour)

    The undersides of the wings of the males are black with a diagonal white band and a curved arc of white spots on each wing.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    male underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour)

    The species is found from Madagascar across south-east Asia, including :

  • India,
  • New Zealand,
  • Singapore,

    and the subspecies nerina (Fabricius, 1775) is found from Christmas Island across the whole of mainland Australia to Vanuatu, including

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • Victoria.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    (Specimen: courtesy of Anna Piper and the Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour)

    The eggs are spherical and pale yellow or green. They are laid in small irregular groups under leaves of foodplants. The female butterflies are inclined to be protective of plants on which they have laid eggs.

    The male butterflies are attacked in the egg by a Wolbachia bacterium. However, some populations are developing immunity to this parasite.

    Hypolimnas bolina Hypolimnas bolina
    Nauru
    , 1984

    This is a featured species at the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House. The butterflies may be purchased for release at weddings etc.

    Hypolimnas bolina
    female
    (Courtesy : Instant Scratch Its)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 567-569.

    Murdoch De Baar,
    in Attracting insects and birds to gardens and consequential issues,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), p. 18,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Peter Hendry,
    Different but the same,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 63 (December 2011), pp. 6-9,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Ross Kendall,
    Images of Butterfly Larvae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 55 (December 2009), p. 32,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 479, No. 124.


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    (updated 31 March 2011, 20 September 2013, 3 September 2016)