Delias argenthona (Fabricius, 1793)
Northern Jezabel
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Delias argenthona

This Caterpillar starts life as one of an array of yellow barrel-shaped eggs laid on the leaf of a food plantj each with a height of about 1 mm.

early instars
(Photo: courtesy Brett Howton, Narangba, Queensland)

The Caterpillar may be one of several shades of colour: either yellow, brown, green or pink. It has long white hairs growing out of rows of white spots, and a black head and tail. The Caterpillar grows to a length of about 2 cms.

Delias argenthona

It lives and feeds communally in a sparse web of silk on various species of Mistletoe ( LORANTHACEAE ) including :

  • Gum Mistletoe ( Amyema bifurcata ),
  • Sheoak Mistletoe ( Amyema cambagei ),
  • Box Mistletoe ( Amyema miquelii ),
  • Drooping Mistletoe ( Amyema pendula ),
  • Christmas Mistletoe ( Amyema sanguinea ),
  • Signal Mistletoe ( Decaisnina signata ),
  • Bald Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe glabrescens ),
  • Curved Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe curvata ),
  • Forked Mistletoe ( Diplatia furcata ),
  • Bidwill's Mistletoe ( Muellerina bidwillii ),
  • Coast Mistletoe ( Muellerina celastroides ),

    as well as

  • Northern Sandalwood ( Santalum lanceolatum, SANTALACEAE ).

    Delias argenthona
    late instars
    (Photo: courtesy Brett Howton, Narangba, Queensland)

    The pupa has a length of about 2 cms. It is orange or yellow with black spikes, and is attached to a leaf of the food plant.

    Delias argenthona

    The adults are white on top, with a black tip to each forewing and a wide black margin to each hindwing, both containing white spots. The wingspan is about 6 cms.

    Delias argenthona
    Delias argenthona
    (Specimens: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    Underneath, the forewings are similar, but the hindwings have a yellow base, then a white band, and have a black outer half containing an arc of red splotches.

    Delias argenthona
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monaghan, Upper Daintree, Queensland)

    The species is found on

  • Papua,

    and over most of Australia, including

  • Western Australia,
  • Northen Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales.

    Delias argenthona
    female, underside, with unusual white spot
    (Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

    Butterflies of this species may be purchased for release at weddings etc.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 339-340.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta,
    Volume 3, Part 1 (1793), p. 200, No. 624.

    Ross Kendall,
    A new host plant for the Scarlet or Northern Jezebel butterfly (Delias argenthona),
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), p. 35,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 18 February 2010, 30 April 2016)