Euploea core (Cramer, [1780])
Common Crow or Oleander Butterfly
(one synonym : Crastia binghami Moore, 1883)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley & John Stumm

Euploea core
(Photo: courtesy of Andy Bowen, Noosa, Queensland)

This species is famous for its pupa. The pupa is a shiny metallic silvery gold, and is about two centimetres long. It is usually found hanging from the underside of a leaf of its food plant. The pupa in spite of its appearance is not metallic. The shining effect is the result of of being covered in a number of transparent layers of skin.

Euploea core
(Photo: courtesy of Russell Yates, Woodgate, Queensland)

The Caterpillar has alternating bands or orange, black and white all along the body, and has eight black tentacles in pairs: two pairs on the thorax, and a pair on each of abdominal segments two and eight.

Euploea core
(Photo: courtesy of Coralie (aka ferrous angel))

When disturbed, the caterpillar raises the front of its body, and curls its head underneath.

Euploea core
(Specimen: courtesy Joan Tyson, Bundaberg, Queensland)

It is usually found on:

  • Oleander ( Nerium oleander, APOCYNACEAE ).

    The caterpillars have been found for many years on the Oleander bushes along the main street of Newport in the northern suburbs of Sydney, but curiously, not on similar bushes along the adjacent side roads. It is possible that the local Council, in pruning the bushes back each year on the main road, stimulated the growth of more suitable shoots for the caterpillars to eat, than were available on the less disturbed bushes in the side roads.

    The caterpillar has also been found feeding on:

  • Morton Bay Fig ( Ficus macrophylla, MORACEAE ),
  • Brazilian Jasmine ( Mandevilla species, APOCYNACEAE ), and
  • Frangipani ( Plumeria alba, APOCYNACEAE ),

    as well as a number of other plants in MORACEAE and APOCYNACEAE.

    At about mid-larval stage, an interesting feeding habit develops. It is well illustrated at the extreme right-hand side of the photo by Joan Tyson. Before starting to eat a new leaf, the caterpillar first chews the underside of its pedicle until the leaf begins to sag. It then eats the whole leaf. It then repeats the procedure on subsequent leaves. In summer in Sydney, the larval phase had lasts about 21 days. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 6 cms.

    Euploea core Euploea core

    the pupation process

    About twelve hours after pupation, the fully formed pupa is a rich creamy colour. The silver phase occurs about a day later. The pupal stage in summer in Sydney lasts about seven days. On the morning of emergence, the pupa becomes almost black with the pale legs of the adult lying bunched together on the abdomen and some white blotches on the wing outlines. After the adult emerges, it is able to fly within about eight hours.

    Euploea core
    (Photo: courtesy of Coralie (aka ferrous angel))

    The adult butterflies have a wing span around 7 cms. They are black with small white spots on the edges of the wings, and larger spots further in. On the hindwings, these large spots form a marginal row, and some spots are in pairs. On the forewings, the large spots vary in size, and form a less well defined row. In males, the inner margin of the forewing is bowed; in the female it is straight. The adults only have four legs.

    Euploea core
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The adult butterflies sometimes congregate in groups of thousands at various sheltered coastal valleys from Brisbane to Townsville to pass the winter in a state of hibernation. The adult butterflies have been quoted as having a lifespan of eleven to thirteen weeks.

    Euploea core
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, Blackbutt, Queensland)

    The eggs are cream coloured and have a height of about 2 mm. They are barrel shaped with ribs. They are laid singly on the undersides of young leaves of the foodplant. One of us has a Small-leafed Moreton Bay Fig Bonzai tree and found a small white egg on one of the leaves on the 1st of January one year. It hatched about one week later. and when its length reached 8 mm it was recognizable as the larva of Euploea core.

    Euploea core

    It seems to be a species that prefers a tropical climate. It is known as various races across south-east Asia, including :

  • India,
  • Sri Lanka,
  • Thailand.

    and it breeds as the race corinna (W.S. Macleay, 1826) in the northern half of Australia including

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland,
    and occasionally spreads as far south as
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria and
  • South Australia.

    Euploea core
    Cocos Islands

    The butterflies have been found overwintering in large numbers in north Queensland.

    The adult butterflies are sometimes found sucking the sap from the fruits of Rattlepods ( Crotalaria species). The butterflies are thought to absorbing poisons from the plant in order to, in turn, make themselves poisonous to eat.

    The species is featured at the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House. Butterflies of this species may be purchased in Australia for release at weddings etc.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 605-607.

    Pieter Cramer,
    Description de Papillons Exotiques,
    Uitlandsche kapellen voorkomende in de drie waereld-deelen,
    Amsterdam Baalde, Volume 3 (1780), p. 135, figs. E, F, and also Plate 266, figs. E, F..

    Peter Hendry,
    An introoduction to Crows of the World, the Euploeas (Lepidoptera: Danainae),
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 56 (March 2010), pp. 13-25,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Hongmin Kan,
    The Life Cycle of a Common Crow: Euploea core (Cramer, [1780])
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 52 (March 2009), pp. 25-26,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Frederic Moore,
    On Limnaina and Euploeina,
    Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,
    Vol. 3 (1883), pp. 278-279, No. 8.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 224.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 18 February 2013, 7 January 2014, 28 March 2015)