Eurema smilax (Donovan, 1805)
Small Grass-yellow
(one synonym : Terias casta Lucas, 1892)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Eurema smilax
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar is green with a yellow line along each side, and a darker green line along the back. It has been found feeding on plants in CAESALPINIACEAE including

  • Pudding Pie Tree ( Cassia fistula ),
  • Jewelled Cassia ( Senna coronilloides ),
  • Kolomana ( Senna gaudichaudii ),

    as well as plants in MIMOSACEAE such as

  • Australian Native Sensitive Plant ( Neptunia gracilis ), and
  • Cyclops Neptunia ( Neptunia monosperma ).

    Eurema smilax
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is held by cremaster and girdle to a stem of the food plant. It has a length of about 1.5 cms.

    Eurema smilax
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The upper surfaces of the wings of the adult butterfly are yellow with a black band around the edge, and a black dot near the middle. The undersides are yellow with variable brown markings. It has a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Eurema smilax
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Murrindindi, Victoria)

    The eggs are off-white and spindle shaped, with a height of about 1.2 mm, and a diameter of about 0.3 mm. They are covered in a microscopic lattice, consisting of about 50 columns of 100 or so embossed rectangles. The eggs are laid singly on a foodplant.

    This species has been found in

  • India,
  • Java,
  • Niger,

    and all over Australia, including

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

    Eurema smilax
    (Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 302-304.:

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    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,
    Volume 1 (1805), p. 98, and also Plate on p. 96.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the Small Grass Yellow, Eurema smilax, (Donovan, 1805) Lepidoptera: Pieridae,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 75 (December 2014), pp. 12-14.
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, p. 40.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 25 April 2009, 29 December 2023)