Junonia villida (Fabricius, 1787)
Meadow Argus
(previously known as : Precis villida)
NYMPHALINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Junonia villida
(Photo: courtesy of Peter Street, Central Coast, New South Wales)

The Meadow Argus Caterpillar is black or brown, and spiky. The spikes are short, thick, and branched. There is even a pair on its black head. Small blue-white spots dot the surface, and there are larger whitish marks underneath. There may also be yellow areas at the base of the spikes. There is a narrow yellow neck between the head and thorax.

Junonia villida
(Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

This Caterpillar feeds on many plants, both native and introduced, of the garden and the roadside, including :

  • Karamat ( Hygrophila angustifolia, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Spreading Nut Heads ( Epaltes australis, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Dwarf Convolvulus ( Evolvulus alsinoides, CONVOLVULACEAE ),
  • Sweet Scabious ( Scabiosa atropurpurea, DIPSACACEAE ),
  • Centuary ( Centaurium spicatum, GENTIANACEAE ),
  • Fairy Fanflower ( Scaevola aemula, GOODENIACEAE ),
  • Plantains ( Plantago species, PLANTAGINACEAE ),
  • Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea, PORTULACACEAE ), and
  • Verbena ( Verbena species, VERBENACEAE ).

    When not feeding, the Caterpillar hides under a leaf or at the base of the foodplant. The Caterpillar can mature in about two weeks, growing to a length of about 4 cms.

    Junonia villida
    (Photo: courtesy of Nadine Brown, Swan Reach, South Australia)

    It pupates on the underside of a stem or leaf of its foodplant, dangling by its cremaster to do so. The pupa is dark grey with white mottling. It is rough and has a knobbly dorsal surface. It has the appearance of a dead crumpled leaf as it swings with the plant in the wind. Its length is about 1.5 cms. The pupal period can be ten days, in February in Melbourne.

    Junonia villida
    (Photo: courtesy of John Thompson)

    The butterfly emerges after about two weeks. The male and female are similar in appearance. Their wings have upper surfaces that are brown, with orange and white markings, and blue eye spots. The latter are blue spots surrounded by a dark brown ring, which is in turn enclosed by an orange circle. There is a large eye spot at the outer margin of each fore wing, and two smaller eye spots on each hind wing. The front margin of each fore wing also bears a small blue bar bordered on each side by orange. Underneath, the fore wings have similar markings, against a pale brown background. The undersides of the hind wings are mottled brown with no distinct markings The butterflies have a wingspan up to 5 cms.

    Junonia villida
    (Photo: courtesy of Emma Moysey, Ecology Australia Pty. Ltd.)

    The butterflies are readily attracted to flowers where they are very easy to catch, and are often seen sunning themselves on the ground with their wings open. The butterfly is very hardy. It has been reported to winter in the Flinders Ranges (South Australia) during weather that was below freezing at nighttime.

    Junonia villida
    Cocos Islands 1972
    Junonia villida
    Tuvalu 1981

    The female lays her eggs singly on the leaf of a foodplant. Eggs laid in captivity hatched in about four days. The eggs are green and barrel shaped, with a height of about 0.8 mm.

    Junonia villida
    Australia Post 1998

    It is widely distributed across the south Pacific, including:

  • Cook Islands,
  • Fiji,
  • Papua,
  • Samoa,

    and subspecies calybe Godart, 1819, is found throughout Australia, including

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Lord Howe Island,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 574-576.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths, CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 2.


    previous
    back
    caterpillar
    Australian
    Australian Butterflies
    butterflies
    Australian
    home
    caterpillars
    Australian
    Australian Moths
    moths
    next
    next
    caterpillar

    (updated 20 August 2011, 20 September 2013)