Cupha prosope (Fabricius, 1775)
Australian Rustic
(one synonym: Messaras susanna Koch, 1865)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Cupha prosope
(Photo: courtesy of Steve Pearson, Airlie Beach, Queensland)

The Caterpillars of this species feed on various species from the plant family SALICACEAE, including :

  • Coffee Plum ( Flacourtia jangomas ),
  • Flintwood ( Scolopia braunii ),
  • Queensland Xylosma ( Xylosma terrae-reginae ),

    as well as

  • Willgar ( Breynia oblongifolia, PHYLLANTHACEAE ).

    The caterpillar is greenish brown with an orange head, and a yellow stripe along each side. The body is covered sparsely in branched spines. Young caterpillars are inclined to hang on silk threads at night. This may protect them from roaming predators.

    Cupha prosope
    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Pearson, Airlie Beach, Queensland)

    The pupa is greenish mottled with silver, and has a number of curly spines. It hangs obliquely from a silk cremaster head downward on the foodplant.

    Cupha prosope
    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Pearson, Airlie Beach, Queensland)

    The wings of the adult butterflies are orange with a wide brown area by the body and a wide darker brown area along the margins, and with some pale spots by the tip each forewing. The wing undersides have a similar paler pattern, and additionally each wing has a subterminal arc of circled dark spots. The last spot at the tornus of each forewing is larger than the rest.

    Cupha prosope
    (Photo: courtesy of Steve Pearson, Airlie Beach, Queensland)

    The eggs are greenish yellow and spherical. They are often laid singly on plants adjacent to, but not on, the foodplant. The female butterflies have also been observed laying their eggs on spiders webs near a foodplant, or dead twigs, or 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.

    Cupha prosope
    Cambodia, 1990
    (Photo: courtesy of Poppe Stamps)

    The species is found in

  • New Guinea and adjacent islands,

    and in Australia in

  • Queensland along the north-eastern coastal strip.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 546-547.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    1775, pp. 504-505, No. 260.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, p. 8.

    Garry Sankowsky,
    Unusual egg-laying strategies of some Lepidoptera,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 73 (June 2014), pp. 17-21,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    June Wimberly,
    Australian Rustic Butterfly,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 37,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 18 December 2009, 3 November 2013, 27 January 2014, 4 March 2015, 12 October 2017)