Delias harpalyce (Donovan, 1805)
Imperial White
(one synonym : Papilio lewini Thon, 1828)
PIERINAE ,   PIERIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Delias harpalyce
(Photo: courtesy Stewart Newman)

These Caterpillars are cylindrical and black with sparse white hairs and spots. The Caterpillars feed on various species of Mistletoe ( LORANTHACEAE), including :

  • Erect Mistletoe ( Amyema congener ),
  • Box Mistletoe ( Amyema miquelii ),
  • Drooping Mistletoe ( Amyema pendula ),
  • Wire-leaved Mistletoe ( Amyema preissii ),
  • Grey Mistletoe ( Amyema quandang ), and
  • Creeping Mistletoe ( Muellerina eucalyptoides ).

    Delias harpalyce
    larval web plus winter (black) pupae
    (Photo: courtesy of Clive Oatley, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria)

    The gregarious Caterpillars spin a silken web on their foodplant. They grow to a length of 4 cms.

    Delias harpalyce
    summer (orange) pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Stewart Newman)

    The Caterpillars pupate in a group in their web. The pupae range in colour from orange in summer to black in winter. The pupae have a small forked appendage at the head end. The orange pupae have a black dorsal line on the thorax, and a number of black spikes including one on the back of each abdominal segment.

    Delias harpalyce
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The butterflies have a wingspan of up to 7 cm. The upper surfaces of the wings are a dirty white with wide black margins. The forewing tips each contain an arc of white spots. The females are greyer than the males and have a green tinge, and the black margins are wider.

    Delias harpalyce
    underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The undersides are white, red, yellow, and black.

    Delias harpalyce
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Clive Oatley, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria)

    The eggs are laid in clusters of about 100 on the upper surface of a foodplant leaf. The eggs are yellow and bottle shaped with a height of about 0.1 cm.

    Delias harpalyce
    (Photo: courtesy of Clive Oatley, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria)

    The species occurs in the south-eastern quarter of continental Australia, including

  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria.

    Drawings were made of this species by Arthur Bartholomew in 1861.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 334-336.

    Michael F. Braby,
    Inland breeding records for two mistletoe butterflies (Lepidoptera) from northern Victoria,
    Australian Entomologist, Volume 32 (2005), Part 4, pp. 161-162.

    Edward Donovan,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans.
    London, 1805, pp. 88-89.


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    (updated 6 June 2007, 29 October 2013, 25 January 2014, 15 March 2015)