Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758)
Tawny Coster
(one synonym is : Acraea violae Fabricius, 1775)
HELICONIINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of Robert Whyte, Bush Blitz)

These Caterpillars have been found feeding on various plants, including :

  • Spade Flower ( Hybanthus enneaspermus, VIOLACEAE ),
  • Lamtoro ( Leucaena leucocephala, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Passion Vines ( Passiflora species, PASSIFLORACEAE ), and
  • Gourds ( Trichosanthes species, CUCURBITACEAE ).

    The caterpillars are brown, with branched black spines arising from rows of black spots along the body. The caterpillars grow to a length of about 3 cms.

    The pupa is cream, with striking black markings, and rows of black outlined orange spots along the abdomen. It has two blunt horns on its head. It hangs head downward by a silk cremaster from the foodplant. It has a length of about 2 cms.


    (Photo: courtesy of Simon Chan Kee Mun, Butterfly and Insect Group, Nature Society Singapore)

    The wings of the adult butterflies are orange, with black spots. The hindwings additionally have a black border containing white spots. The undersides are similar to the upper surfaces. The males are more deeply coloured than the females. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 5 cms.


    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Mike Reid, Lake Eacham, Queensland)

    Initially the species was found only in

  • India, and
  • Sri Lanka.

    Recently the species appears to be following the south-eastward expansion of its foodplants. It has been estimated that it was moving about 200 Km per year across south-east Asia, successively into

  • Thailand (1984),
  • Malaysia (1992),
  • Singapore (2006), and
  • Indonesia (2011).

    In 2012 it was found breeding in Australia, in:

  • north of Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory, and
  • Queensland.


    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Mike Reid, Lake Eacham, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ross Kendall,
    A new immigrant butterfly for Australia,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 70 (September 2013), pp. 1, 4-6,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 466, No. 45.

    D.C. Franklin, S.C. Morrison, and G. Wilson,
    A colourful new Australian reaches Talaroo: The Tawny Coster, Acraea terpsicore,
    North Queensland Naturalist,
    Volume 47 (2017), pp. 10-13.


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    (written 20 December 2013, updated 16 April 2017)