Oreixenica lathoniella (Westwood, 1851)
Common Silver Xenica
(previously known as : Lasiommata lathoniella)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Oreixenica lathoniella Oreixenica lathoniella
(Photos: courtesy of Boris Branwhite, Wyong Shire, New South Wales)

The Caterpillar of this species feeds on various grasses (POACEAE) such as:

  • Weeping Grass ( Microlaena stipoides ),
  • Purple-Sheath Tussock Grass ( Poa ensiformis ), and
  • Common Tussock Grass ( Poa labillardieri ).

    The Caterpillar is green or brown, with pale lines along the body, and a dark dorsal line. The head is about the same colour as the body, and rounded. The anal segment has a forked projection.

    The pupa is formed hanging head downward from a cremaster. It is brown with a forked head and spiky protuberances on the body. Its length is about 1 cm.

    Oreixenica lathoniella
    race: Oreixenica lathoniella laranda
    (Specimen: courtesy of Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adult is dark brown with orange markings and one eyespot on top of each wing, one under each fore wing, and two under each hind wing.

    Oreixenica lathoniella
    race: Oreixenica lathoniella herceus
    (Specimen: courtesy of Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Underneath, each wing has a yellow line accompanied by a row of silvery spots along the margin, and the hind wings have a silvery crescent around each eye spot. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms. The best way to catch them is at dawn when they can be found resting on grass stems covered with dew, and one only has to pick them up.

    Oreixenica lathoniella
    (Photo : courtesy of Ted Cadwallader, Swan Hill, Victoria)

    The eggs are brown and spherical. They are attached singly to leaves of a foodplant.

    Oreixenica lathoniella
    race: Oreixenica lathoniella herceus
    (Specimen: courtesy of Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The species is found as several races in the south-east quarter of Australia :

  • lathoniella in eastern Tasmania,
  • laranda Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, in western Tasmania,
  • barnardi Turner, 1926, in central Tasmania, and
  • herceus Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, in the mountains of New South Wales, and Victoria, and South Australia.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 497-499.

    John O. Westwood,
    Genera of diurnal Lepidoptera,
    Volume 2 (1851), p. 387, No. 25.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 22 December 2012, 20 September 2013, 14 April 2015, 26 June 2020)