Hypolimnas misippus (Linnaeus, 1764)
Diadem
(one synonym : Euploea dioxippe Hübner, 1816)
NYMPHALINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

The Caterpillars of this species are black and covered in branched hairs. They feed on a variety of plants, including:

  • Chinese Violet ( Asystasia gangetica, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Pastel Flower ( Pseuderanthemum variable, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea, PORTULACACEAE ),
  • Hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, MALVACEAE ), and
  • Greater Plantain ( Plantago major, PLANTAGINACEAE ).

    Hypolimnas misippus
    Christmas Island, 1987
    Hypolimnas misippus
    French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, 1975

    The adult butterflies are dimorphic. The males and females have entirely different colours and patterns.

    Hypolimnas misippus
    Grenada-Grenadines, 1990
    Hypolimnas misippus
    Mauritius, 1991
    Hypolimnas misippus
    Anguilla, 1971

    males, upper surface

    The males are black with large white patches surrounded by iridescent purple. Their wingspan extends to about 6 cms.

    Hypolimnas misippus
    Cape Verde, 1982
    Hypolimnas misippus
    Cuba, 1991
    Hypolimnas misippus
    Burkina Faso, 1984

    females, upper surface

    The female butterflies are orange with wide black borders around the wings, and a white patch and a variable number of white spots in the black tips of the forewings. Their wingspan can extend to 7 cms.

    Hypolimnas misippus
    Cocos_(Keeling)_Islands, 1982
    Hypolimnas misippus
    Ascension Island, 1987,

    males, underside

    The undersides of the males are brown with a broad white band across each wing.


    female, underside

    The undersides of the females are very like their upper surfaces.

    The species occurs around the whole equatorial belt: Africa, south-east Asia, the Pacific Islands, North and South America, and the West Indies, including :

  • Barbados,
  • Ghana,
  • India,
  • Japan, and
  • Panama,

    as well as the northern half of Australia, including

  • Northern Territory, and
  • Queensland.

    In the Americas and the West Indies, it is thought that the species was introduced, perhaps accidentally, from Africa in the slave ships.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 569-570.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Museum Siae Riae Mitis Ludovicae Ulricae Reginae,
    1764, p. 264, No. 83.


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    (updated 18 November 2009, 8 December 2013)