Butterflies from around Sydney, Australia
Don Herbison-Evans
& Stewart Newman & Stella Crossley

This list is derived largely from Kelvyn and Lawrence Dunns' "Review of Australian Butterflies" which was definitely a labour of love. They examined every specimen from most of the major collections or were supplied this information by the owners, and collated the data from dozens of private collections as well, totalling a staggering 86,621 records of butterflies collected in Australia. The rest of the info is from Alexander Burns "Butterflies in Colour", Charles MacCubbins "Australian Butterflies", and from our own somewhat vague memories and notes. The following species are the ones recorded in the greater Sydney area (the Wollongong-Katoomba-Gosford triangle). In general: We have here illustrated each with a thumbnail image of the underside of the adult butterfly, as most butterflies close their wings when at rest, and then the underside is what is seen.

PAPILIONIDAE: Swallowtails and Birdwings

Cressida cressida (Clearwing Swallowtail)
A few records in October and one in April says this species is a great rarity in Sydney. It is a coastal insect, and Sydney is well south of the range where its foodplant is mainly found.

Graphium choredon (Blue Triangle)
In the 1970's, when Don lived in Manly, these butterflies would regularly visit, even laying eggs on an Avocado tree in the front garden. The species is commonly seen anywhere around Sydney from September to April. In 2000 and 2001, larvae were found on Camphor Laurels in Burwood, and adults were seen in February 2010 in Concord, February 2012 in Windsor and in Beverly Hills, and near Iron Cove Bridge in May 2013. In 2016 in Seven Hills: adults were photographed in February and March, and one seen in October. In February 2022, it was seen in Beverly Hills, and February 2024 in Bowral.

Graphium eurypylus (Pale Green Triangle)
It is very difficult to differentiate between this species and Graphium choredon in flight or at a distance when feeding, which is a problem as it is a very active species. It has been found in Waverley, and Stewart observed adults at Berowra in April 2003. There was also a small population at Revesby Heights, where they could be seen on sunny days in February/April visiting the local Buddleias there, although ecofreaks have removed many of the Buddleias in that area, so that population may now be extinct. Sydney is its absolute southern limit. However, some were seen on Buddleia flowers in Narraweena in February 2004. They have been seen in Wahroonga in January 2006, in Hornsby in March 2006, and in Gosford February 2021.

Graphium macleayanum (Macleay's Swallowtail)
More commonly encountered at altitude, it has been seen all around Sydney between August and May. Males hill top, where they can be seen defending their territory from rival males and courting passing females. We used to watch them in The Crest, flying above the Gum trees at its highest point. They rarely came down to a catchable height. However a newly emerged female was seen feeding on Lantana in Pymble in August 2003, Martin Purvis photographed one in the Royal Botanical Gardens in April 2004, and others photographed at Blackheath, January 2013, in Medlow Bath, March 2015, and Newcastle January 2021.

Papilio aegeus (Orchard or Citrus Swallowtail)
A very common suburban species, this large insect can be seen cruising around from October to May. A visit to the local Nursery will nearly always reward you with eggs or young larvae from their Citrus trees, something we have done dozens of times. They were breeding in Cherrybrook in March 2007, and adults were seen in Concord February 2010, Galston March 2012, Bondi November 2012, Annandale January 2013, Seven Hills November 2014, Randwick December 2014, Dee Why January, Beecroft in February and March 2015. Adults were in Huntley's Cove March 2016, a larva found in Annandale in November 2016. A female laying eggs in Pittwater and a male sighted at Russell Vale, Wollongong, in January 2019, A female was seen in Gladesville in March 2019, and caterpillars found in inner Sydney in January and in St Clair in April 2022. Stewart caught one laying eggs in June 2023 in Roseville.

Papilio anactus (Dainty Swallowtail)
Once a very common species across Sydney, these days you have to dedicate time and effort to find them. Flying from October to April, recently they have been found breeding on Orange trees near Windsor. The males establish territories which are strenuously defended, an interesting spectacle to watch. The unusual thing is the same territories will be used year after year. In autumn 2004, they were quite common around Ingleburn. They were breeding in Cherrybrook in March 2007, and Kellyville in March 2016.

Papilio demoleus (Lime or Chequered Swallowtail)
Only an occasional breeder in Sydney, this splendid insect flies in as a annual visitor from September to April, but more commonly late November to the end of February. Usually seen rapidly flying in one direction at a constant height, they only occasionally land and catching one is a real thrill.

NYMPHALIDAE: Nymphs, Danaiids, Satyrs, Fritillaries, and Browns

Acrea andromacha (Glasswing)
This butterfly can be caught from October-April and was locally common in The Crest reserve at Georges Hall during the Seventies but has become more elusive these days. Sydney is about the most southern limit of its range but there are still small pockets located around the outer suburbs. The larvae feed on native Passionfruit vines, and it is around these plants that adults congregate. Seen in Erina March 2013.

Argynnia cyrila (Cyril's Brown)
This is a mountain insect which can be caught from September to December. It is more commonly encountered in lush gullies where the males actively fly around defending territories and visiting local flowers. The females are more secretive.

Charaxes sempronius (Tailed Emperor)
Along with Papilio aegeus, this is the largest butterfly in Sydney. On the wing from October to May, they can vary greatly in size, some males are small but the females can be larger than Papilio aegeus. At home in the mountains or the suburbs, they are commonly seen feeding on the introduced Robinia pseudoacacia. This is a pity, as the trees are deciduous, and in autumn the can larvae die of starvation, and pupae fall to the ground if attached to a leaf. We have found this species breeding in Camperdown, and also seen adults in Arcadia. Also seen at Forresters Beach June 2021.

Danaus affinis (Black & White Tiger)
This is a coastal species, the foodplant is a vine which grows along the edges of salt creeks well north of Sydney, although this butterfly does get around. A few records during January-March are probably vagrant females looking to extend their home range. Seen in Gosford February 2013.

Danaus chrysippus (Lesser Wanderer)
One of the more common species, they wander rather than stay in the one area. Their populations fluctuate from time to time but they are always found somewhere in Sydney between September and May. We have bred many over the years, the larvae feeding on milkweed. Bruce Michael observed adults near Windsor in April 2003, and Stewart saw one in Erina January 2015.

Danaus plexippus (Monarch or Wanderer)
One of the more common butterflies in Sydney, it can be seen at any time of the year and just about anywhere. They live for about three to four months and spend all of that time living up to their name: 'Wanderers'. It is the first butterfly Stewart bred. The caterpillars feed on Milkweed, which grows everywhere in Sydney. The adults were seen in Seven Hills in April 2013, December 2015 April 2016.

Euploea corinna (Australian Crow)
This has been found breeding in Newport. Commonly found on the north side of the harbour from October to June. Occasional specimens can be caught all around Sydney during summer. They are a common sight near Gosford where the adults congregate in shady gullies. Adults were seen in Seven Hills December 2015 and January and February 2016, and larvae and in 2016 as pupae on Mandevilla in Villawood in March, and adults in Rydalmere in April, and in Seven Hills in April, May, and September. Also in Ryde and Waverton in January 2021.

Geitoneura acantha (Eastern Ringed Xenica)
A fairly common species located in most hilly sandstone country, which is not hard to find around Sydney. We have caught numerous in places like Heathcote, the mountains and the northern plateau. They fly close to the ground and settle frequently, using their camouflaged underside to avoid detection. They can be caught from November to March. Seen: Charles Darwin Walk December 2019.

Geitoneura klugii (Klug's Xenica)
More of a mountain insect than acantha, your best bet is to go to the Blue Mountains and search the more open eucalypt forests. They are active from November to February and are reasonably common. Whenever we go to the mountains, we have little trouble finding one. This is usually as a result of disturbing one sitting on the ground. They are similar in habits to Geitoneura acantha.

Heteronympha banksii (Banks' Brown)
Confined to the mountains, generally above 300m, this insect prefers the more lush ravines and hillsides. Available from February to April the males are fairly active, searching out the females, defending territories, feeding at flowers and enjoying the sunshine. This can make them a challenge to catch as they are so active. Stewart photographed one at Central Mangrove in March 2023.

Heteronympha cordace (Bright Eyed Brown)
A species you have to travel a bit to get, it is generally found above 900m, which is getting close to Katoomba. It can be found from December to February in swampy environments, where its foodplant, a tall Sedge, is located. They are locally common.

Heteronympha merope (Common Brown)
One of the most common Sydney butterflies in mid-late spring, the males abound in most open eucalypt forests, parkland and reserves. The males spend their time gently fluttering above the ground and searching through the undergrowth for females, which emerge at the same time but are far more secretive. Males die off by January, but the females can be caught up until May. Bruce Michael observed adults near Windsor in April 2003, and Stew photographed a male in August 2021 near Somersby, and a female laying eggs at Kariong in January 2022.

Heteronympha mirifica (Wonder Brown)
For many years it was thought the sexes were from different species, as the males tend to congregate towards the tops of hills and the females occur in the moist gullies below. They can be caught from October to April, but as in Heteronympha merope, the males usually disappear by January. To watch a female flushed from the shadows in a shady gully is truely a memorable sight. The species can be found at various sites around Sydney, from the coast to Katoomba. Adult sighted at Appletree Bay December 2015.

Heteronympha paradelpha (Spotted Brown)
A mountain species whose distribution within their range can be best described as patchy. The isolated colonies fly from January to March, so locating them is not necessarily an easy task. Targeting their foodplant is of no great assistance as they feed of common soft grass.

Heteronympha penelope (Shouldered Brown)
Another mountain insect, it flies from January to April at altitudes above 700m. The males are typical of the genus and are quite active. Their preferred habitat is the more open eucalypt woodland where they can by locally quite common at times.

Hypocysta adiante (Orange Ringlet)
Probably the prettiest of the genus around Sydney, this small butterfly can be seen from September to May right throughout Sydney from the coast to the lower Blue Mountains. Generally not found in great concentrations, more often than not just a few in any one area. They fly just above ground level and have jumpy flight pattern, stopping at regular intervals to rest or feed.

Hypocysta euphemia (Rock Ringlet)
More commonly located in hilly terrain around Sydney, it can be caught from August to May when the males can be seen patrolling around sandstone country in search of a mate. The populations have a fairly even distribution and are never found in great numbers. They are not as active as Hypocysta adiante. We have found them at Heathcote.

Hypocysta metirius (Common Brown Ringlet)
In keeping with its name, it is common across Sydney from the coast to the other side of the mountains between September and May. Habitat for this species varies greatly, as we have seen them from the suburbs, in gardens, parks and open reserves to lush undergrowth in thick bush. It is similar in flight and habit to Hypocysta adiante but can be seen in greater densities. Recent sightings were in Ingleburn.

Hypocysta pseudirius (Dingy Ringlet)
Not found as readily as Hypocysta metirius, but none the less still quite common. Encountered across a wide range of habitats anywhere in the Sydney area from September to May. There have been times when we have seen Hypocysta pseudirius, Hypocysta metirius, and Hypocysta adiante flying together. They are very difficult to tell apart in flight, and you don't know which one to chase.

Hypolimnas bolina (Blue Moon)
More of a visitor than a resident in Sydney, this very striking insect turns up from time to time. A few years ago Stewart had a male set up residence in his front yard at Revesby Heights, they will land on you if you stand still in their territory. It was only the third time he had seen one in Sydney. The best hope of sighting one is between January and May. One was seen in the city, near the Australian Museum, in January 2004, and others in Waverton and visiting Dahlias near Maitland in May 2004.

Hypolimnas misippus (Diadem)
Definitely a straggler to Sydney, only three records for this species in Sydney exist out of 86,621 Australian butterfly records, and all were caught in May. The chances of seeing this butterfly are slim as it is considered rare even around Brisbane.

Junonia villida (Meadow Argus)
One of our truly national butterflies, it is found everywhere at any time. For example, in May 2003 they were seen in Arcadia. They are readily attracted to flowers where they are very easy to catch and are often seen sunning themselves on the ground with their wings open. In 2016 in Seven Hills : one was photographed in Seven Hills in February, and more than 20 were seen on grasslands in October.

Melanitis leda (Evening Brown)
These are said to reach Sydney, but if you examine the data, there are only a dozen or so records between October and April. One of us (Stewart) was privileged enough to catch one some years ago at Georges Hall. It was the dry season form, very worn and in an area visited daily, yet we had not seen one there either previously. The only logical conclusion is that they are vagrants in Sydney and the chances of catching or even seeing one slim. But Stewart saw one at Bateau Bay, one at Tascott, and one at Umina in March 2023.

Oreixenica lathoniella (Common Silver Xenica)
Located commonly on high mountain plateaus, where it can be locally abundant. Stewart was near Kanangra Walls one Easter and they were littering the ground. The best way to catch them is at dawn when they can be found resting on grass stems covered with dew, one only has to pick them up. They fly from January to April.

Tirumala hamata (Blue Tiger)
Breeding populations of this species have not become established in Sydney, but it is still a fairly regular visitor. Odd specimens can be seen during November to March from the coast to the mountains, Stewart has seen six or so over the years, including a mating couple. Some were seen on Buddleia flowers in Narraweena in February 2004. Several were seen in summer 2005-2006 around Hornsby-Berowra. A mass migration was seen in Gosford, November 2014, and adults in January 2015, and March 2020. One dead and one live adult were seen in Haberfield in November 2020.

Tisiphone abeona (Swordgrass Brown)
An extremely variable species throughout its range, this delightful nymph can be seen commonly from the coast to the mountains in and around its swampy breeding areas between September and May. The males are very active, spending their time dancing around the foodplants or surrounding areas. Seen at Forresters Beach March 2019, Charles Darwin Walk December 2019.

Vanessa itea (Yellow Admiral)
A real speed demon, these butterflies always seem to be in a hurry. When they land they flash their wings to display that bright yellow spot. An impressive sight. They are commonly encountered from early spring to late autumn everywhere around Sydney. Martin Purvis photographed one in the Royal Botanical Gardens in April 2004. The favorite food of the adults is the sap exuding from borer holes in Gum trees. The larvae feed on URTICACEAE.

Vanessa kershawi (Australian Painted Lady)
Similar to its European cousin, this Lady can be seen around Sydney anywhere and any time except winter. At home in the suburbs or the bush, they readily visit flowers or land on the ground with wings outstretched. Some were seen on Buddleia flowers in Narraweena in February 2004, and 3 flying adults were seen in 2016 in Seven Hills in September, and 30 in October, and then one in North Sydney in November.

Ypthima arctous (Dusky Knight)
Very inconspicuous as it hovers above open grassy areas from October to May, it is more common than one might think. At times quite local, populations are found all around Sydney where suitable habitats of undisturbed clumping grasses remain. It was seen in Ingleburn in March 2004.

PIERIDAE: Whites and Yellows

Appias paulina (Common Albatross)
Not exactly common around Sydney, it is more likely to be seen in the mountains, but Stewart caught several at Revesby Heights so don't dispair. It has been recorded from November to March and readily visits flowers. Some were seen on Buddleia flowers in Narraweena in February 2004.

Belenois java (Caper White)
This species is migratory. Some years, thousands fly through Sydney, but most years they don't. These migrations have been observed for decades, and they usually fly in a Northerly direction in late November/December. They have been caught from September to May but rarely breed in the area. Adult photographed November 2015 in Seven Hills. Many were seen visiting Gosford and also Seven Hills in October 2016, and a big migrations observed in Woongarrah in March and in Bilgola in October 2020.

Catopsila gorgophone (Yellow Migrant)
Only seven records for this species in Sydney exist out of 86,621 Australian butterfly records, and they stretch from November to May. This statistic reinforces the notion of the migratory habit of this species. Sydney is about as far south as it wanders, so the chances of sighting one are slim. It has not been recorded as breeding here.

Catopsila pomona (Lemon Migrant)
Very sporatic in appearance in Sydney, some years you will not see any but then again you may see six in one day. Catching them is another matter as they invariably seem to be on a mission, flying at full speed at a height of about 2m in a set direction and rarely stop. Records are from November to February. They do not appear to breed around here, but a big visitation occurred through January/February 2004. One was seen on Lantana in Eastwood in March 2006, and Woongarrah in January 2021.

Catopsila pyranthe (Common Migrant)
There are numerous records of this species being caught here, but due to the abundance of Pieris rapae and the similarity in colour and size, it takes a keen eye to tell the difference. Mainly caught from January to May, this one is also a visitor that may not be seen for years. Seen in Umina in March 2013.

Cepora perimale (Australian Gull)
This species is more of a rare vagrant than anything else in Sydney. Seasons:- September-May

Delias aganippe (Wood White)
More common inland, our populations fluctuate. Some years you may not see any while it can be locally common in others. It does breed here and may be seen from August to May, usually at height around a Gum or She-oak tree.

Delias argenthona (Northern Jezabel)
Sydney is generally accepted as the southern limit, although occasional specimans reach further south. It frequency also varies greatly, it can be common, but then vanishes for a few years. Generally seen from November to April, isolated pockets may be found breeding in the suburbs from time to time.

Delias harpalyce (Imperial White)
This fine insect may be seen anywhere in and around Sydney from September to April. It is never abundant, usually only seen in ones or twos at height. It never breeds on the same tree twice but populations can always be found somewhere around if you are lucky.

Delias nigrina (Common Jezabel)
No matter where we have travelled around our city, we see their familiar flash of white. On any sunny day, be it Winter or Summer, they are a constant sight and have always brightened our day. They are easy to breed and can be found on the same Mistletoe several years running.

Delias nysa (Yellow Spotted Jezebel)
The data suggests it is more common than Delias argenthona but we have only seen a couple in Sydney, it appears to be more common inland. Most records are from October to April and we saw ours feeding at Buddleia.

Elodina angulipennis (Common Pearl White)
Scattered records from September to April and the listing of Sydney as its southern limit add up to one difficult insect to catch. However, there seems to be a colony established in the Royal Botanical Gardens. This is another species which could be confused with Pieris rapae and thus possibly overlooked.

Elodina parthia (Chalk White)
This species is more of a rare vagrant than anything else in Sydney. We have seen the odd little white beastie darting through the bush but have never been quick enough to catch one. AND before you say anything they were NOT Pieris rapae!!!! Seasons:- October-November, February-May.

Elodina padusa (Narrow-Winged Pearl White)
Typical of the genus, it feeds off Capparis and tends to wander. Specimens turn up here from September to January fairly regularily, one just has to differentiate between it and the hundreds of Pieris rapae that tend to cloud the view. Resident breeding populations are unknown.

Eurema brigitta (Broad Bordered Grass Yellow)
Sporadically migrating to Sydney between December and April, there are few records of it breeding around here. As with most migrants, it can may not be seen for years but Stewart has caught a couple as they passed through. They tend to keep fairly close to the ground.

Eurema hecabe (Common Grass Yellow)
As with Eurema brigitta, Sydney is the recognised southern limit but it has been recorded as breeding here. Only seen from February to May but more specimens have been collected. Stewart once stalked one for twenty minutes before being able to catch it.

Eurema herla (Pink or Macleay's Grass Yellow)
This is another rare vagrant in Sydney. Only seven specimens have been collected from March to May, it has not been found breeding here.

Eurema smilax (Small Grass Yellow)
By far the most common of the genus, it is regularily seen from September to May all over the whole country it is a familiar sight in open forest and parklands.

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White)
Not here by choice, these European invaders have caused much damage to market gardens around Sydney, as the larvae feed on members of the Cabbage family, and the adults can be seen anywhere at any time. They are also frequent visitors to Nasturtiums in Concord, on which the larvae also feed. Adults were observed in December 2015 and February 2016 in Seven Hills.

LYCAENIDAE: Blues and Coppers

Acrodipsas brisbanensis (Large Ant Blue)
An unusual genus of butterflies with a predatory larval stage, it flies from September to April throughout the Sydney area wherever colonies of its ant host are available. Secretive at all stages of its life, adults are usually observed hilltopping around small eucalypts. Populations of this insect are generally small and localised.

Acrodipsas cuprea (Copper Ant Blue)
Very closely resembling Acrodipsas brisbanensis in all aspects of adult life, it is found around Sydney in similar circumstances.

Acrodipsas myrmecophila (Small Ant Blue)
Around Sydney this has proved elusive. Only a few records, from October and January to March.

Candalides heathi (Rayed Blue)
An insect more often encountered in the open fields than the dense forest, it can be caught anywhere suitable habitat is located around Sydney at any altitude from August to March. It prefers to remain close to the ground.

Candalides xanthospilos (Yellow Spot Blue)
Such a pretty little butterfly, they appear to flash as they fly along just above the ground. Located in bushland around Sydney from August to March, populations are constant but never abundant. One was phoographed in Agnes Banks area January 2022.

Catopyrops florinda (Speckled Line Blue)
One would be lucky to encounter this very occasional visitor to the Sydney region. Only a dozen records exist for this species in Sydney out of 86621 records of Australian butterflies. They run through October and from January to May, but a colony was found by Martin Purvis in the Blue Mountains in March 2006, so they are still around here.

Cyprotides cyprotus (Pencilled Blue)
A species which is caught more in the bush than the suburbs, it can be sighted from August to December around Sydney from the mountains to the sea. Males are known to 'hilltop' while females are more secretive in their habits. Populations are isolated, though common where they occur.

Deudorix diovis (Cornelian)
A few records from Gosford between January and May make this species a chance catch. More common in northern N.S.W., the larvae feed off nuts rather than leaves. It would be easier to locate the foodplant than the adults.

Eirmocides absimilis (Pencilled Blue)
A common species in Sydney now thanks to the common use of Wisteria as an ornamental plant, on which the larvae feed. The butterflies are on the wing from September to March, and never wander too far from their home. One was photographed in September 2007 in Pennant Hills. Seen in Seven Hills March 2016.

Eirmocides consimilis (Dark Pencilled Blue)
So similar to Eirmocides absimilis it was not identified for a long time. The main differences are the more diffuse sex brand on the forewings of the males, and there being less white on the hindwings of the females. Around Sydney the butterflies occur in forested areas, not the backyards like Eirmocides absimilis. They fly from August to February, usually at height, but they regularily visit flowers.

Erina acasta (Blotched Blue)
We have found this species to be very localised. In a large area which was covered with numerous clumps of the larval foodplant Cassytha, only one plant was utilised by the adults. They fly from August to April and are common up to 300m. One landed on the shoe of Martin Purvis at Ingleburn in August 2004.

Erina hyacinthina (Common Dusky Blue)
Common but restricted to small areas around the foodplant, this insect is found in most bush around Sydney between August and April. The males establish territories which are vigorously defended and land with wings half open in a state of readiness, an attractive sight when they are freshly emerged.

Erysichton lineatus (Hairy Line Blue)
One of the rarer lycaenids, it is said they occur in rainforest areas, although one of the foodplants is a common tree in the suburbs these days. They fly from January to June. We saw one in Wamberal in February 2020.

Hypochrysops byzos (Yellow Spot Jewel)
Some of the most elegantly detailed insects one ever hopes to see, this species is very inconspicuous even if common in an area. The best way to obtain a specimen is from the larval host. It flies from September to April. Stewart observed one at Revesby Heights.

Hypochrysops cyane (Cyane Jewel)
Known from only a few locations around Sydney, Casula and Oyster Bay, very few specimens have been taken during October, November, February and March.

Hypochrysops delicia (Moonlight Jewel)
Found on the coast and tablelands, this fine insect is never found too far from the larval host. They can be caught from September to April where the males set up territories in a prominent position near the host and defend it to all comers. If the dominant male is collected, he is soon replaced by another. They can be found on the same trees year after year.

Hypochrysops ignitus (Fiery Jewel)
Reportedly common around Sydney, the larval foodplants of this species vary widely and it is inconspicuous in flight. Found from October to April, local knowledge plays a large part in the collecting of this species.

Jalmenus evagoras (Common Imperial Blue)
Stewart's earlies memories are of this insect, when in year 2, there was a population in the bush adjacent to the school. Over the next 20 years they remained on the same few plants in that reserve until it was cleared by developers. An extremely local species, adults are seldom seen more than 20 metres from the host, which is invariable juvenile Acacias under 2 metres tall. Larvae are highly gregarious and the adults congregate around the foodplant so are easily detected. Flying from November to May, they are locally common anywhere around Sydney where pockets of suitable habitat are found. In 2002, it was found breeding in Kellyville before the area was cleared for housing developments. We hope it still can survive in the remaining pockets of bush there. Bruce Michael observed adults near Windsor in April 2003. Stewart observed adults in Hornsby in May 2003, and Martin Purvis saw them in Ingleburn in April 2004. A breeding population was found in Pennant Hills in March 2006.

Jalmenus ictinus (Stencilled Hairstreak)
Far more inconspicuous than Jalmenus evagoras in habit, they breed on larger trees, and the larvae are usually found alone or in pairs. The adults still keep close to the host, but as they are smaller, less concentrated and around larger trees, they are more difficult to detect. At times locally abundant, they can be seen from November to April.

Lampides boeticus (Pea Blue)
We have found these breeding on Broom bushes in Manly and Concord. Males set up small territories which they patrol, fighting off rival males who trespass. If the resident male is removed, another one soon appears take his place and the one territory is used by males year after year. Caught from September to June, this is a common species.

Leptotes plinius (Zebra Blue)
The adults are often seen flitting around Plumbago bushes in Sydney in summer, especially in the heat of the day. We have found larvae on Plumbago in Newtown, Concord, and Revesby. They fly from December to May and are common thanks to the prolific use of their foodplant as a garden ornamental. Bruce Michael observed adults near Windsor and Epping in April 2003. Stewart observed adults in Gordon and Pennant Hills in May and in Arcadia in June 2003.

Lucia limbaria (Grassland Copper)
More common in the dry interior, this species is present in the Sydney region and has been caught from October to April.

Nacaduba berenice (Six Line Blue)
Only a few specimens have been collected and these were from Toukley, north of Gosford during March.

Nacaduba biocellata (Two Spotted Line Blue)
Common from August to June (seen in May and June 2003 in Arcadia), this very small insect is easily overlooked as it flies around the acacias upon which it feeds. Found everywhere around Sydney where suitable wattle and habitat are located. As with most species, they only feed of a few trees even though there may be hundreds to choose from.

Neolucia agricola (Fringed Blue)
More commonly encountered in the mountainous areas around Sydney, it is a spring insect caught from September to December.

Neolucia mathewi (Mathew's Blue)
Also located in the mountainous areas around Sydney, it too is a spring insect caught from September to December.

Ogyris abrota (Dark Purple Azure)
Always easy to spot but much harder to catch, adults fly around eucalypt canopies and feed off their sap rather than flowers, so rarely come near ground level. The easiest way to obtain one is to search the mistletoe foodplants for larvae or pupae. It flies from August to April in most leafy suburbs.

Ogyris amaryllis (Satin Azure)
Confined to Casurina stands located mainly along waterways, this locally common species can be seen from September to April high up around the canopy. As with Ogyris abrota, it is easier to target the larvae and pupa.

Ogyris genoveva (Southern Purple Azure)
Stewart has only ever seen two, though its foodplant is common. From September to March you can expect to see them, but if our experience is anything to go by, they only exist in undisturbed environments.

Ogyris ianthis (Golden or Sydney Azure)
Only found in a few localities from Killara northwards, this species is also impacted by development but may be seen from October to March.

Ogyris olane (Dull Purple Azure)
Widespread but very local, adults are sighted from August-November and January-March flying around the tops of eucalypts which support their host. As with all Ogyris, the only practicable way to obtain adults is to collect larvae and pupae, as the adult butterflies do not feed from flowers or descend to ground level.

Paralucia aurifera (Bright Copper)
Restricted to bushland where its spiny foodplant is not cleared, this shy little copper is usually only seen within the vicinity of the host. They fly from August to April from ground level to about 3m and are sometimes seen keeping company with Paralucia pyrodiscus. They were seen in April 2004 in Ingleburn.

Paralucia pyrodiscus (Fiery or Dull Copper)
Similar in habit to Paralucia aurifera, they are seen from October to April.

Prosotas felderi (Felder's Line Blue)
Very small, reasonably high flying and being inconspicuous to boot make this quite a trophy. Only a few scattered records from throughout the year, but mainly November and February-April.

Pseudalmenus chlorinda (Silky Hairstreak)
Found in the Blue Mountains from altitudes 700-1200m in gullies, it is described as extremely local and rare. Only recorded from October to December, Recent severe bushfires will not have improved the chances of locating them.

Psychonotis caelius (White Banded Blue)
This has been found breeding in Dee Why and the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is very common on Alphitonia excelsa in the rainforest remnants around Gosford to Ourimbah, August to May.

Theclinesthes miskini (Wattle Blue)
Usually seen flying around their acacia foodplants, this species is widespread and fairly common from August to May.

Theclinesthes onycha (Cycad Blue)
Interesting because the larvae feed off Cycads, this Blue is more common south of Sydney in open eucalypt forest between August and June. Males are reported to hilltop while the females can more often be seen around the foodplant.

Thesclinesthes serpentata (Chequered or Saltbush Blue)
More common inland, this species feeds on saltbushes and it is around these that adults are seen from September to April.

Thesclinesthes sulpitius (Samphire or Saltpan Blue)
Only found on salt flats in tidal rivers where the foodplant grows, this species can be seen from December to April.

Zizina otis (Australian Grass or Clover Blue)
Seen commonly from August to May, this very small insect is a familiar sight all around Sydney. Flying just above the ground in any open area, they land frequently to feed at flowers, particularily clover, which is also the larval foodplant. Adult photographed in Seven Hills in March 2016.

Zizula hylax (Tiny Grass Blue)
Since only two specimens have been caught around Sydney in March, one can expect this is a chance capture, but you never know your luck.

HESPERIIDAE: Darters and Skippers

Antipodia chaostola (Heath Sand Skipper)
Near Sydney, this species is found in the mountains to the west. A very rare and local insect which is unusual as it has a two year life cycle. Adults fly only during October and November from near Zig Zag to the Blackheath area.

Badamia exclamationis (Brown Awl)
More commonly a sub-tropical inhabitant, migrations are well documented and thus it has been captured around Sydney from January to April. No documentation is available to confirm that this species breeds within our area.

Cephrenes augiades (Orange Palm Dart)
We have found larvae on Palms in Manly, Haberfield and many suburbs in Sydney. Their distribution has been aided by the popular planting of Palm trees, and the butterflies are a common sight from October to May.

Chaetocneme beata (Common Red-Eye)
An interesting species, it is rarely observed unless flushed from their resting place in a well sheltered spot. They fly in November and February to April around Sydney and are not common despite the wide occurance of Camphor Laurel. Stewart has found larvae at Loftus.

Dispar compacta (Barred Skipper)
On the coast and tablelands in open eucalypt forest, it is fairly local in distribution and not that common. Flying from January to April adults remain close to the ground. Martin Purvis saw one at Picnic Point in March 2004.

Hasora khoda (Large Banded Awl)
A very common species around Sydney thanks to the widespread use of Wisteria vines, this is a good example of how some species benefit from human activities. Flying from November to early April, their dark colouration and rapid flight make them hard to track, though they are readily attracted to flowers and are easy to breed.

Hesperilla crypsargyra (Silvered Skipper)
Found only at altitude, it is common in the Blue Mountains from October to March but has also been taken in the Ku-ring-gai area.

Hesperilla donnysa (Varied Sedge Skipper)
As a teenager, Stewart used to locate dozens of pupa on Gahnia in open eucalypt woodlands near home but only ever saw one adult, which was feeding. They are highly inconspicuous insects and it is easier to collect pupa. One may see an adult around from September to April. Most recently they were seen in Waverton.

Hesperilla idothea (Flame Skipper)
Located in the surrounding mountains and tablelands of Sydney, this skipper may be seen from October to February in eucalypt forests harbouring suitable foodplants. It is not commonly encountered.

Hesperilla mastersi (Chequered Sedge Skipper)
These occur from sea-level to 900m. It was only a few months ago we caught our first one. It flew up to the back door and we just picked it up!!! We let it go after a positive identification. Prior to that we'd never seen one, pretty little thing. Seasons:- November-March. Frequency:- rare.

Hesperilla ornata (Spotted Skipper)
Unlike a lot of skippers, these will wander far from the foodplant and are regularily seen feeding. Seen from September to April in and around the suburbs where pockets of Gahnia still remain, common elsewhere.

Hesperilla picta (Painted Skipper)
Another very localised skipper, it is at times abundant around the foodplant but rarely found far from it. Usually situated along waterways and marshy country all around Sydney from September to May.

Mesodina aeluropis (Montane Iris Skipper)
This is a mountain species: the data suggests it occurs only above 800m, but one has been observed in excellent condition while camping on the Colo river, at water level (40m according to the survey map), so even though it was in a mountainous terrain, it could be said that they will wander into sunny valleys given the right conditions. Another interesting point according to the maps is the peaks around are no higher than 600m. They have never been recorded on the plains. Seasons:- October-February. The ones we have collected all came from what you would call dryer more open woodland as opposed to the thick lush dense tropical type forests.

Mesodina halyzia (Eastern Iris Skipper)
A common species distributed throughout most bushland from the coast to over the mountains. Seen from August to May usually close to the ground or feeding at flowers.

Motasingha trimaculata (Three Spot Skipper)
Like most species, it is restricted to localities where suitable supplies of the foodplant remain. They fly from September to December on the plains and December to February in the mountains. Found in small local colonies, they have been caught at Killara.

Netrocoryne repanda (Eastern Bronze Flat)
Another species we know well, having bred them for many years. Adults emerge in October/November, and are usually rare by December. If eggs are laid in early October, a second generation will be produced in late February/March. The adults are very elusive resting on the underside of leaves, but they do feed at flowers where they can be caught. Since our observations started in 1988, the eggs and larvae have been found on the same few plants year after year. Adults and larvae have been found on Camphor Laurel at Burwood, Concord, and Revesby Heights although ecofreaks have removed many of the Camphor Laurels in Revesby Heights, so that population may now be extinct, but the species is distributed in many other areas around Sydney.

Ocybadistes flavovittata (Common Dart)
Located from the coast to the tablelands from October to April, it feeds off grasses which makes it a little harder pin down to one area. It is listed as common, which probably refers to local populations, and has been found breeding in Manly. Adult photographed in Seven Hills March 2016.

Ocybadistes hypomeloma (Pale Orange Dart)
Another small skipper with larvae that feed on grass anywhere around Sydney where suitable habitat exists, it is also listed as common and flies from October to April.

Ocybadistes walkeri (Yellow Banded or Southern or Green Dart)
More common than its cousins in all aspects, it is seen in any small park or reserve all around Sydney from August to May.

Oreisplanus perornatus (Mountain Spotted Skipper)
Restricted to the mountains, it is only caught during October and November, so one may need to target the foodplant. It is said to be relatively common where populations exist.

Pasma tasmanica (Two Spotted Grass Skipper)
The data suggests that this occurs from sea level to 900m, but most records are from the tablelands (open eucalypt forests) so they are more commonly found at altitude. Seasons:-October-April, probably bivoltine. Frequency:- rare.

Signeta flammeata (Shield Skipper)
Occurring from sea-level to 1500m. Our records are a bit incomplete but one of us (Stewart) lists having caught at least one. Seasons:- January-April. Frequency:- since we have caught them, anyone can.

Signeta tymbophora (Dingy Shield Skipper)
Much more difficult to find than Signeta flammeata and with a distribution to match, it only flies in February and March.

Suniana lascivia (Dingy Dart)
Located on the coast and tablelands. It is relatively common from October to April but is very local and may only be found in a small area where it does occur.

Taractrocera papyria (White Banded Grass Dart)
Reasonably common in all areas of Sydney from August to April, this species can usually be located in most open eucalypt forests flying just above ground level.

Telicota ancilla (Dark Palm Dart)
Another skipper that feeds on grass and flies from October to April. Your best bet is bushland reserves and open eucalypt forest. It is fairly common where found. One was seen in Seven hills in April 2016.

Telicota anisodesma (Large Darter)
A few records between October and April from Gosford. It is extremely unlikley one will encounter this species.

Telicota colon (Pale Palm Dart)
Not much information except that is is encountered in open eucalypt and rainforest verges along the coastal plains and tablelands from December to March. Not many specimens collected.

Telicota eurotas (Sedge Darter)
Not very common, but reportedly found in swampy areas along the coast where the Sedge foodplant grows. It flies from October to March.

Toxidia andersoni (Southern Grass Skipper)
A mountain insect, it has been caught at places like Bulli and Mt Kembla. It only flies from December to March with relatively few individuals being collected.

Toxidia doubledayi (Lilac Grass Skipper)
Like most grass feeding skippers, it remains close to the ground. This one is found in the suburbs as well as open eucalypt forests and commonly flies from September to April.

Toxidia parvula (Banded Grass Skipper)
Flying from September to April mainly on the coast but also on the tablelands, it feeds off grasses and is quite common.

Toxidia peron (Large Dingy Grass Skipper)
The most widespread of its genus around Sydney, it was the commonest skipper seen by Stewart during his youth. Seen almost anywhere around Sydney from September to May, it is a familiar sight.

Toxidia rietmanni (White Brand Skipper)
Preferring rainforests, it is mainly located on the coast but has been caught elsewhere in similar habitat. The records indicate it is not that common, it can be seen from October to March.

Trapezites eliena (Orange Ochre)
Assisted by the widespread use of Lomandra in gardens, this species can be seen in many parts of Sydney from August to April, though its strongholds remain in open eucalypt bush.

Trapezites iacchoides (Silver Studded Ochre)
Flying at different times depending upon altitude, it is seen in September/October on the lowlands and November-January in the mountains. Also feeding on Lomandra, the males are said to hilltop in open eucalypt forest but females are more elusive, both being quite local but common where they occur.

Trapezites luteus (Rare White Spot Skipper)
All data for this species indicates it is difficult to locate and quite rare when found. Records show it is caught sporadically from September to March, more commonly on the tablelands and mountains but it does occur on the coast. Typical of the genus, it feeds on Lomandra, but information on preferred habitat is scant.

Trapezites petalia (Common White Spot Skipper)
Very similar to Trapezites lutea, it is far more common even though Sydney is the southern limit of distribution. Also found from sea to summit, it flies from September to May.

Trapezites phigalia (Heath Ochre)
Adults emerge at different times depending upon elevation, being seen on the coast from August to October and in the mountains from October to December. This is a reasonably common species, but prefers the more natural surroundings of the bush.

Trapezites phigalioides (Montane Ochre)
Less frequently encountered than its cousins but still ranging right across Sydney, they only fly from October to January and are essentially forest insects.

Trapezites praxedes (Southern Silver Ochre)
Found from the mountains to the ocean, it prefers the open bush and is more common in Spring and Autumn. It is very similar in habit to Trapezites iacchoides.

Trapezites symmomus (Splendid Ochre)
Already common in remnant bushland where Lomandra grows, recent council landscaping and bush regeneration fads with its foodplant have given this species the springboard it needed to firmly establish itself everywhere else in Sydney. For example, Don found it breeding in Concord beside the main road in Council plantings of Lomandra. It can now be seen widely in November, December, and March to May. Stewart saw some adults in Gordon in May 2003.

Some links to other Australian regional Butterfly sites:
South Australian Butterflies
Western Australian Butterflies

Link to
Frequently Asked Questions about Caterpillars

Australian Butterflies
Australian Moths

(updated 26 June 2013, 29 February 2024)