Delias argenthona (Fabricius, 1793)
Scarlet or 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.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 39, 59.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 18 February 2010, 30 April 2016)