Tellervo zoilus (Fabricius, 1775)
Hamadryad
DANAINAE,   NYMPHALIDAE,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Tellervo zoilus
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

These Caterpillars are initially brown with white transverse bands, a green head, two yellow spots on the tail, and two filaments projecting from the thorax.

Tellervo zoilus
(Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

Later instars become black with a black head, and develop yellow bases to the thoracic tentacles.

The caterpillars feed on the soft new shoots of vines from the plant family APOCYNACEAE, including :

  • Possum Scrub ( Parsonsia ferruginea ),
  • Silkpod ( Parsonsia latifolia ), and
  • Strawpod ( Parsonsia straminea ).

    Each caterpillar appears to be territorial, marking out its intended food leaf with regurgitated fluid before feeding on it. Any adjacent caterpillars are jostled away with rapid sideways head movements.

    Tellervo zoilus
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

    The pupa is a pale shiny green colour with black spots. It is suspended head downward from a cremaster usually from the underside of a leaf.

    Tellervo zoilus
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

    The pupa becomes black with a couple of yellow marks before eclosion.

    Tellervo zoilus
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

    The adult butterflies are black with white spots on the forewings, and a large white patch on each hindwing.

    Tellervo zoilus
    (Specimen: courtesy of The Australian Museum)

    The undersides are similar but have more white spots. They have a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    Tellervo zoilus
    underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of The Australian Museum)

    The eggs are white and spherical and covered in dimples. They are laid singly under a foodplant leaf.

    Tellervo zoilus
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Dick Whitford, Mt Molloy, Queensland)

    The species is found as several races in

  • New Guinea and adjacent islands,

    as well as in Australia in Queensland as the races

  • gelo Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, on Cape York, and
  • zoilus from Cooktown to Townsville.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 614-615.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae (1775), p. 480, No. 163.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 230.


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    (updated 16 September 2010, 12 December 2013, 9 December 2019, 28 June 2020)