Phaedyma shepherdi (Moore, 1858)
Common Aeroplane
(previously known as Neptis shepherdi)
LIMENITIDINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
David Johnston & Stella Crossley

Phaedyma shepherdi
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar hatches from an egg that is pale yellow or green, and knobbly. The egg is laid singly on the tip of a leaf of a food plant.

The caterpillar is coloured with patches of green and brown. It has five pairs of branched spines, one pair on each of the mesothorax and metathorax, and a smaller pair on each of the abdominal segements two and eight, and another pair on its head. There are often some white spots on the last abdominal segments. When disturbed, the caterpillar everts a white organ under the head which sometimes makes a pungent smell.

Phaedyma shepherdi
(Photo: copyright David Johnston)

The caterpillar feeds on the foliage of many trees from a variety of different families, such as :

  • Lacebark ( Brachychiton discolor, STERCULIACEAE ),
  • Bird Lime Tree ( Cordia dichotoma, BORAGINACEAE ),
  • Velvet Bean ( Mucuna gigantea, FABACEAE ),
  • Mugilam Bush ( Grewia papuana, MALVACEAE ), and
  • Hackberry ( Celtis paniculata, ULMACEAE ).

    The caterpillar hides underneath a curtain of bits of leaf that it cuts and hangs on the leaf where it rests. It grows to a length of about 3 cms.

    Phaedyma shepherdi
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is patchy brown, with a pair of white spots on the metathorax. The pupa hangs from a black cremaster attached under a leaf of the food plant. It has a length of about 2 cms.

    Phaedyma shepherdi
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett)

    The adults are dark brown on top, with a number of white patches tinged with pale green. Underneath the base colour is a pale brown, but with the same pattern of white patches. The butterflies have a wing span up to 6 cms.

    Phaedyma shepherdi
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The species occurs as a number of subspecies in the south-west Pacific, including:

  • Indonesia, and
  • Papua New Guinea,

    and in Australia as subspecies shepherdi in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Phaedyma shepherdi
    underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 558-559.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on White-banded Plane, Phaedyma shepherdi (Moore, 1858) Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 72 (March 2014), pp. 11-15,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Bob Miller,
    Osmeterium-type projection found on the larvae of the White-banded Plane (Phaedyma shepherdi),
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Newsletter Issue 32 (March 2004), p. 6.

    Bob Miller,
    Further notes on "The Osmeterium-type structure found on the larva of Phaedyma shepherdi",
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), pp. 26-27,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Frederic Moore,
    Monograph of the Asiatic Species of Neptis and Athyma,
    Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,
    Part 26, Volume 8 (1858), p. 8, No. 16. and also Plate 50, fig. 1.

    Hilton Selvey,
    White-banded Plane or Common Aeroplane Phaedyma shepherdi Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 59 (December 2010), pp. 9-11,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.


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    (updated 25 April 2010, 12 December 2013, 27 January 2014, 4 April 2014)