(also known as Argyreus hyperbius)
HELICONIINAE, NYMPHALIDAE, PAPILIONOIDEA
This Caterpillar is probably named after the valiant warrior, son of Oenops, in the ancient Greek play "The Seven Against Thebes" by Aeschylus.
The eggs of this species are barrel-shaped, and have vertical ridges. Initially they are white, later changing to bluish-green. They are often laid singly on plants adjacent to rather than on the foodplant. The female butterflies have been observed laying their eggs on debris at the foot of a foodplant. This appears to be a response to a defence that some plants have developed against caterpillars. These plants secrete a juice in response to an egg being laid on them. The juice causes mould to grow which kills the egg.
The caterpillars are black with orange tubercles, and are covered in branched black spines.
The caterpillars are inclined to hide by night, and but by day feed on the Australian native violets ( VIOLACEAE ) :
The pupa is spiky and orange. Some of the spikes are cream coloured. It hangs by a cremaster from a stem of a nearby plant.
The adult butterflies on top are orange with black spots.
male, under surface
(Photo: courtesy of David Johnston)
The female has larger black spots, creating black areas on the wingtips. Underneath, both sexes are pale with dark markings The wingspan can reach 7 cms.
as well as the subspecies inconstans (Butler, 1873) in Australia where it is considered to be an endangered species, occurring locally in
Further reading :
Michael F. Braby,
Butterflies of Australia,
CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 550-551.
Johnston and Johnston,
Life history of Argyreus hyperbius inconstans (Australian fritillary),
Australian Entomological Magazine,
Volume 11 (October 1984), pp. 4-5.
Volume 6 (1763), p. 408-409, No. 75.
Unusual egg-laying strategies of some Lepidoptera,
Issue 73 (June 2014), pp. 17-21,
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.
(updated 8 October 2012, 1 Auugust 2016)