Euploea corinna (W.S. Macleay, [1780])
Australian Crow or Oleander Butterfly
(one synonym : Euploea angasii Felder & Felder, 1865)
DANAINAE,   NYMPHALIDAE,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley & John Stumm

Euploea corinna
(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 corinna
(Photo: courtesy of Coralie, aka Ferrous Angel)

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

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

The caterpillar 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 other plants in APOCYNACEAE, including:

  • Desert Rose (Adenium obesum),
  • Scented Milkvine (Marsdenia suaveolens),
  • Silkpod (Parsonsia straminea),
  • Cork Vine (Secamone elliptica),

    and plants in MORACEAE including

  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina),
  • Sandpaper Fig (Ficus coronata),
  • Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla),
  • Manbornde (Ficus virens),

    The young caterpillars have cannibal behaviour, as they have been observed eating unhatched eggs of their own species.

    Euploea corinna
    showing nibbled pedicle
    (Specimen: courtesy Joan Tyson, Bundaberg, Queensland)

    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 corinna Euploea corinna

    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 corinna
    (Photo: courtesy of (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 hind margin of the forewing is bowed; in the female it is straight. The adults only have four legs.

    Euploea corinna
    (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 corinna
    (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 corinna

    It seems to be a species that prefers a tropical climate. It has been found in

  • Bali

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

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island
  • Lord Howe Island,

    and occasionally spreads as far south as

  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria and
  • South Australia.

    Euploea core
    Cocos Islands 1982

    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.

    For many years, Euploea corinna was though to be a subspecies of Euploea core, but Vane-Wright (1993) found stable populations of both species side-by-side on Bali and adjacent islands, proving that they were separate species.


    Further reading :

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

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 14, 62.

    William Sharp Macleay,
    Annulosa,
    in Philip Parker King :
    Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia,
    Volume 2 (1826), Appendix B, p. 462, No. 150.

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


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    (updated 18 February 2013, 7 January 2014, 28 March 2015, 28 July 2017, 24 May 2019, 17 June 2020)