(one possible synonym is Acraea violae Fabricius, 1775)
HELICONIINAE, NYMPHALIDAE, PAPILIONOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Robert Whyte, Bush Blitz)
These Caterpillars have been found feeding on various plants, including :
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.
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 thorax is black with white spots. The butterflies have only four developed legs. The males are more deeply coloured than the females. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 5 cms.
The eggs are pale yellow ribbed spheroids, and are laid in groups of 30-100 on the underside of a leaf of a foodplant.
Initially the species was found only in
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
In 2012 it was found breeding in Australia, in:
The butterfly is becoming famous for its mass migrations. Many hundreds were observed passing through the Rural-Residential area Kelso Country Estate, Townsville, Queensland heading south-east in the week 30 March to 5 April 2017.
Further reading :
Kelvyn Dunn and Ed Petrie,
Arrival of the Tawny Coster butterfly in the Bowen region, Queensland,
Volume 47, Part 5 (2017), pp. 109-112.
A new immigrant butterfly for Australia,
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
Issue 70 (September 2013), pp. 1, 4-6.
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.
(written 20 December 2013, updated 15 August 2017, 28 May 2019, 4 September 2020)