Symbrenthia geoffroyi (Guerin-Meneville, 1830)
White or Jezabel Nymph
(previously known as Mynes geoffroyi)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Symbrenthia geoffroyi
young caterpillar, magnified
(Photo: courtesy of Robert Whyte, Brisbane, Queensland)

The Caterpillars are initially orange with black hairs. Later the caterpillars become black with pink hairs, and later still mottled grey and green and brown. The caterpillars are well camouflaged, and look like the flowers and developing fruit on which they feed. They are gregarious and inclined to stay in clusters.

Symbrenthia geoffroyi
(Photo: courtesy of Colin Cook, Byron Bay, New South Wales)

The caterpillars feed on various stinging trees (URTICACEAE) including :

  • Gympie Bush ( Dendrocnide moroides ),
  • Shiny Stinging Tree ( Dendrocnide photinophylla ), and
  • Australian Mulberry ( Pipturus argenteus ).

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    (Photo: courtesy of Colin Cook, Byron Bay, New South Wales)

    The pupa is dark brown and spiky, with darker tips to the spikes, and a white spot under each side of the thorax. The pupa hangs from a leaf or twig, often several hanging together from the same support.

    The wings of the male and female adult butterflies are different.

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The males are white with black margins, and with a white arc in the black forewing wingtips. They bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the PIERIDAE, such as Delias mysis and Delias nigrina.

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    Male underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Underneath, the males are white with black, yellow and red arcs around the edges.

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    Female laying eggs
    (Photo: courtesy of Miranda Waterhouse, Mount Gravatt, Queensland)

    The females are similar in pattern, but with grey substituting for the white. The undersides are darker versions of the male undersides. The wingspan of the male butterflies is about 5 cms. The females have a wingspan of about 6 cms.

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    (Photo: courtesy of Steven Pearson, Bowen Management Unit, Parks Division, Queensland Environmental Protection Agency)

    The eggs of this species are orange and spherical with twelve pale-edged ribs. The eggs are laid in neat arrays of several dozen under a leaf of a foodplant.

    Symbrenthia geoffroyi
    eggs magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Scott Waterhouse, Mount Gravatt, Queensland)

    The species is found as several subspecies in

  • Indonesia,
  • New Zealand, and
  • Papua New Guinea,

    and in Australia, the subspecies guerini Wallace, 1869, is found along the coastal areas of

  • Queensland, and
  • northern New South Wales.

    Butterflies of this species may be purchased for release at weddings etc.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 584-585.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, p. 24.

    Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville,
    Voyage autour du monde sur la covette La Coquille,
    Volume 2, Part 2 (1838), p. 279, and Plate 16, fig. 1.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the Jezebel Nymph Mynes geoffroyi guerini Wallace, 1869 Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 94 (September 2019), pp. 4-8,

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 30 December 2009, 19 December 2023)