Acraea andromacha (Fabricius, 1775)
(erroneously: Acraea andromache Eltringham, 1912)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Acraea andromacha
(Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

These Caterpillars feed on various Passion vines ( PASSIFLORACEAE ), including the Australian natives :

  • Lacewing Vine ( Adenia heterophylla ),
  • Red Passionflower ( Passiflora cinnabarina ),
  • Austraalian Native Passionfruit ( Passiflora herbertiana ),

    as well as the introduced :

  • Sweet Calabash ( Passiflora maliformis ),
  • Love in a mist ( Passiflora foetida ),
  • Banana Passionfruit ( Passiflora mollissima ),
  • Corky Passionfruit ( Passiflora suberosa ), and
  • White Passionfruit ( Passiflora subpeltata ),

    and also :

  • Shrub Violet ( Hybanthus aurantiacus, VIOLACEAE ) and
  • Spade Flower ( Hybanthus enneaspermus, VIOLACEAE ).

    Sadly, the female butterfly will also lay her eggs on other introduced PASSIFLORACEAE such as:

  • Passionfruit ( Passiflora edulis ),
  • Lilikoi ( Passiflora elata ), and
  • Granadilla ( Passiflora ligularis ).

    but the caterpillars cannot thrive on these plants.

    Acraea andromacha
    (Photo: courtesy of Ian McMillan, Imbil, Queensland)

    The caterpillars are brown, with branched black spines arising from black spots all over the body. The caterpillars bunch together initially, but as they mature, separate onto different leaves. They grow to a length of about 3 cms.

    Acraea andromacha
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The pupa is cream, with striking black markings, and rows of black outlined orange spots along the abdomen. It has two blunt horns on its head. It hangs head downward by a silk cremaster from the foodplant. It has a length of about 2 cms.

    Acraea andromacha
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The forewings of the adult butterflies are transparent, with black spots.

    Acraea andromacha
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The hindwings are white with a subterminal black arc, and a black border containing white spots. The mouthparts are unusual in being bright yellow. The butterflies have a wing span of about 6 cms. They are inclined to congregate around larval foodplants.

    Acraea andromacha
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The eggs of this species are barrel-shaped, ribbed, and a creamy-yellow, and each has a height of about 1.5 mm. They are laid in clusters of a dozen or more, on a leaf or stem of a foodplant.

    Acraea andromacha
    egg, highly magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The species has been found in:

  • Fiji,
  • Java,
  • New Caledonia.

    Acraea andromacha
    Fiji, 1994

    and in most of the north and east of Australia, including:

  • north of Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Acraea andromacha
    mating couple
    (Photo: courtesy of Jeff Keyes, Sportsman Creek Wildlife Refuge, New South Wales)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 535-536.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    1775, pp. 466-467, No. 102.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 21, 65.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 22 August 2011, 20 December 2013, 28 January 2014, 4 March 2015, 14 June 2020)