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The following tables are keys to the identification of the "true" butterflies, either present, or likely to be present within South Australia. To keep the text to a minimum, the diagram below shows the key descriptive areas of butterfly wing morphology. Wing measurements represent twice the distance from the apex of the forewing to the centre of the thorax, measuring along the costa.

The key has been broken in to three parts based on the size of the butterflies:

  • Large to very large size: Open wing expanse > 60 mm,
    or approximately the size of the Wanderer See Details
  • Medium size: Open wing expanse 35 - 60 mm,
    or approximately the size of the Cabbage White or Australian Painted Lady See Details
  • Small size: Open wing expanse < 35 mm,
    or approximately the size of the Common Grass-blue See Details

There will obviously be some border line cases in which you will have seen an overly large or small specimen, in which case you may have to look in the adjacent table to find the butterfly. The Ogyris azure butterflies will present some difficulties. Rapid field identifications come through experience.

Large to Very Large Butterflies

approximately the size of the Wanderer

Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 1 Go To
With predominantly black or dark colours Key 2
With predominantly white colour Key 3
With predominantly yellow colour Key 4
With predominantly orange or pale brown colours Key 5
With semi-transparent wings Key 6
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 2 Go To
Very large, wing expanse > 100 mm, mostly black with a narrow white apical band in the FW, a broad white patch on the upperside of the HW, a single large red spot near the tornus on the upperside HW Papilio aegeus aegeus (male)
Very large, wing expanse > 100 mm, subdued black overall with a broad white patch in HW edged outwards with a row of large blue spots and finally a row of large red spots, the white patch is without a central small black patch Papilio aegeus aegeus (female)
Large, wing expanse < 100 mm, generally black with white markings, with a broad white patch on the HW upper and lower sides, edged outwards with a row of large blue spots and finally a row of large red spots, the white patch contains a central small black patch Papilio anactus
Generally black with pale yellow and orange chequered markings, a single large red spot near the tornus of the HW Papilio demoleus sthenelus
Black, chequered with numerous streaky pale blue Tirumala hamata hamata
Mostly black or dark brown with white markings in the outer areas of the wings Euploea core corinna
Upperside mostly black above with a large white circular patch ringed purple in each wing Hypolimnas bolina nerina (male)
Mostly dark brown-black with prominent blue centred eyespots on both the upper and lower sides, and a broad yellow-orange patch on the FW visible both sides. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Tisiphone abeona albifascia
Upperside black and white or grey, underside HW with vivid large markings of black, white, red and yellow Delias aganippe
Upperside black and white or grey, underside HW black and white with a broad curved red post median band without yellow markings. (Likely to be found in the Southeast) Delias harpalyce
Upperside black and white or grey, underside HW black and white with a broad curved yellow post median band without red markings. (Likely to be found in the Southeast) Delias harpalyce (rare form of female)
Upperside dark brownish black and white, underside HW with dark brown, white and orange-yellow markings (no red) Belenois java teutonia (dark female form)
Dark brown-black above with a broad white patch in the HW above, and large white and orange-red patches in the FW above, beneath dark brown with a transverse white bar in the HW Hypolimnas bolina nerina (female)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 3 Go To
Very large, wing expanse > 100 mm, subdued grey-white overall with a broad white patch in HW edged outwards with a row of large blue spots and finally a row of large red spots, the white patch without a central small black patch Papilio aegeus aegeus (pale female form)
Very large, wing expanse > 80 mm, each HW with two sword shaped tails Polyura sempronius
Upperside white and black or grey, underside HW with vivid large markings of black, white, red and yellow Delias aganippe
Upperside white and black or grey, underside HW black and white with a broad curved red post median band without yellow markings. (Likely to be found in the Southeast) Delias harpalyce
Upperside white and black or grey, underside HW black and white with a broad curved yellow post median band without red markings. (Likely to be found in the Southeast) Delias harpalyce (rare form of female)
Upperside white with black markings, underside HW with black, white and orange-yellow markings (no red) Belenois java teutonia
White with narrow or broad black wing margins above, white or cream laced with pale brown markings below, a small black spot in the centre of the FW Catopsilia pyranthe crockera
Pale greenish white or cream overall, wing bases lemon-yellow above, with one or two small silver spots edged pink in centre of HW beneath, antennae pink Catopsilia pomona pomona (pale male form)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 4 Go To
Pale lemon-yellow overall Catopsilia pomona pomona (male)
Pale lemon-yellow overall, with prominent black wing margins, sometimes with a broad dark pink patch in the HW beneath Catopsilia pomona pomona (female)
Upperside FW white, underside and HW upperside orange-yellow Catopsilia scylla etesia
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 5 Go To
Very large, wing expanse > 80 mm, mostly uniform orange-brown with black wing margins and veins, no eyespots Danaus plexippus plexippus
Mostly orange-brown with black wing margins, a broad white apical band in FW, no eyespots Danaus petilia
Mostly orange-brown with black markings, small eyespots on all wings. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Heteronympha penelope penelope
Mostly yellow-brown with dark brown markings, small eyespots on all wings, large dark grey sex patches on FW and HW uppersides Heteronympha merope merope (male)
Upperside mostly orange with small eyespots on both wings, outer half of FW black with yellow patches Heteronympha merope merope (female)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 6 Go To
Wings semi-transparent, with black and white markings on the HW Acraea andromacha andromacha

Medium Size Butterflies

approximately the size of the Cabbage White or Australian Painted Lady

Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 1 Go To
With predominantly white colour Key 2
With predominantly yellow colour Key 3
With predominantly orange or brown colours Key 4
With predominantly black or purple colours above Key 5
With predominantly blue or green colours above, underside dark Key 11
With predominantly blue or green colours above, underside pale Key 17
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 2 Go To
Mostly white with black tips to FW and 2 large black circular spots positioned apically, HW underside uniformly yellow Appias paulina ega (male)
Mostly white above with broad brown-black margins, beneath FW white, HW yellow, both wings with broad brown-black margins, that of the HW extending over half the wing area Appias paulina ega (female)
Upperside white with black markings, underside HW with black, white and orange-yellow markings (no red) Belenois java teutonia
Mostly white or cream coloured with black tips to FW, and 1 or 2 large black circular spots on central part of FW *Pieris rapae rapae
Mostly white with black tips to FW without black circular spots, underside of FW with a yellow costal streak Elodina padusa
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 3 Go To
Mostly yellow with broad black apical and terminal areas to the FW above, the black is continuous to the inner margin of the FW Eurema (Terias) hecabe
Mostly yellow with broad black apical and terminal areas to the FW above, the black is not continuous to the inner margin of the FW Eurema (Terias) smilax
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 4 Go To
Mostly orange-brown or yellow-orange above, dark markings are subdued, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with pale yellow and brown mottled markings and two prominent small eyespots. (Found in the southern Mt Lofty Range) Geitoneura acantha ocrea
Mostly orange-brown or yellow-orange above, dark markings are prominent, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with silvery white transverse markings and two prominent small eyespots, HW slightly elongated. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Oreixenica kershawi kanunda
Mostly yellow-orange above, dark markings are prominent, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with silvery white markings (not transversely aligned) and two prominent small eyespots, HW rounded. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Oreixenica lathoniella herceus
Mostly orange-yellow above, dark markings are prominent, small eyespots present on FW and HW. Underside of HW brownish yellow, markings obscure, a brown median patch and a curved brown post median line, eyespots very obscure or absent, HW rounded. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Heteronympha cordace wilsoni
Dark brown-black with yellow-orange markings above, small eyespots on both wings, usually three small white FW eyespots in upper portion of the post median area aligned almost in a straight line. HW underside with diffuse patchy purplish brown and yellowish markings, and one obscure small eyespot near the tornus, both wings slightly elongated. (Likely to be found in the Lower Southeast) Argynnina cyrila
Mostly yellow-orange above, dark markings are prominent, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with a fine cryptic network of black and white markings, a prominent dark patch in the centre of the wing, and small spots in place of eyespots, HW rounded Geitoneura klugii
Mostly pale brown with large very prominent eyespots on the upperside, HW beneath without prominent eyespot, FW beneath with one large very prominent eyespot Junonia villida calybe
Chequered red-brown and black above, with white apical markings in FW, a post median series of small blue spots edged black on HW above, HW beneath not very dark Vanessa kershawi
Black and rich brown above, with a large yellow patch in FW, and both white and yellow apical markings in FW, a post median series of small blue spots edged black on HW above, HW beneath nearly black Vanessa itea
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 5 Go To
HW beneath very dark with cryptic markings (like bark) Key 6
HW beneath very dark with black and white markings, wings semi-transparent Acraea andromacha andromacha
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 6 Go To
Wings above without metallic purple colours Key 7
Wings above with metallic purple colours Key 8
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 7 Go To
Dark brown-black with yellow-orange markings above, small eyespots on both wings, usually three small white FW eyespots in upper portion of the post median area aligned almost in a straight line. HW underside with diffuse patchy purplish brown and yellowish markings, and one obscure small eyespot near the tornus, both wings slightly elongated. (Likely to be found in the Lower Southeast) Argynnina cyrila
Black and rich brown above, with a large yellow patch in FW, and both white and yellow apical markings in FW, a post median series of small blue spots edged black on HW above, HW beneath nearly black Vanessa itea
Uniform dark brown above with a large yellow patch in the FW, without other markings above. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Ogyris abrota (female)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 8 Go To
FW with a yellow patch Key 9
FW without a yellow patch Key 10
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 9 Go To
HW beneath dark brown, markings very obscure Ogyris otanes otanes (female)
HW beneath with grey and brown pattern, markings clear, HW rounded. Wing expanse usually > 50 mm Ogyris halmaturia (female)
HW beneath with grey and brown pattern, markings clear, HW rounded. Wing expanse usually < 50 mm Ogyris subterrestris subterrestris (female)
HW beneath with grey and brown pattern, markings clear, HW elongated with a short blunt tail. Wing expanse usually > 50 mm. (Likely to be found in the Far North) Ogyris zosine (female purple form)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 10 Go To
HW beneath dark brown, markings very obscure, FW beneath with a post median narrow transverse straight black bar, HW underside without black basal areas Ogyris otanes otanes (male)
HW beneath dark brown and black, markings very obscure, FW beneath inner half mostly black without a post median narrow transverse straight black bar, HW underside with black basal areas. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Ogyris abrota (male)
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, post median band more or less continuous, no HW blunt tail. Upperside purple areas very reduced covering less than half the wing Ogyris olane
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, post median band more or less continuous, no HW blunt tail. Upperside purple areas bright and extensive covering more than half the wing. Wing expanse usually < 50 mm Ogyris barnardi delphis
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, HW elongated with a short blunt tail. Upperside purple areas bright and extensive covering more than half the wing. Wing expanse usually > 50 mm. (Found in the Flinders Ranges and southern districts) Ogyris genoveva (male)
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, HW elongated with a short blunt tail. Upperside purple areas bright and extensive covering more than half the wing, purple duller than in O. genoveva. Wing expanse usually > 50 mm. (Likely to be found in the Far North) Ogyris zosine (male)
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, post median band strongly dislocated mid-way with the upper half moved basally, HW rounded. Upperside purple areas dull and extensive covering more than half the wing. Wing expanse usually > 50 mm Ogyris halmaturia (male)
HW beneath markings mostly grey shades, markings clear, post median band strongly dislocated mid-way with the upper half moved basally, HW rounded. Upperside purple areas dull and extensive covering more than half the wing. Wing expanse usually < 50 mm Ogyris subterrestris subterrestris (male)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 11 Go To
FW with a yellow patch Key 12
FW without a yellow patch Key 13
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 12 Go To
Blue area above very reduced, wing expanse usually > 50 mm. (Found in the Mt Lofty Range) Ogyris genoveva form genua (female)
Blue area above extensive, wing expanse usually < 50 mm. (Found in the Flinders and Olary Ranges and upper Murray Valley) Ogyris genoveva form splendida (female)
Blue area variable, sometimes purplish, usually not greenish tinged as in O. genoveva, wings elongated and more narrow than in O. genoveva, wing expanse usually > 50 mm. (Likely to be found in the Far North) Ogyris zosine (female blue form)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 13 Go To
FW beneath with a red patch Key 14
FW beneath without a red patch Key 15
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 14 Go To
A broad black terminal margin to FW above. (Found in inland areas) Ogyris amaryllis meridionalis (female)
A very broad black terminal margin to FW above. (Found in coastal areas and the southern Mt Lofty Range) Ogyris amaryllis meridionalis (female coastal form)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 15 Go To
FW beneath post median transverse bar is dislocated Key 16
FW beneath post median transverse bar is straight Ogyris oroetes apiculata
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 16 Go To
A narrow black terminal margin to FW above. (Found in inland areas) Ogyris amaryllis meridionalis (male)
A broad black terminal margin to FW above. (Found in coastal areas and the southern Mt Lofty Range) Ogyris amaryllis meridionalis (male coastal form)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 17 Go To
Underside pale brown colour, without a HW tail Jalmenus icilius
Underside pale brown colour with white edged brown markings, and a long non-filamentous HW tail Jalmenus lithochroa
Underside pale brown colour with black markings, and a long non-filamentous HW tail. (Likely to be found in the Olary Range) Jalmenus ictinus

Small Size Butterflies

approximately the size of the Common Grass-blue

Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 1 Go To
With predominantly yellow colour Key 2
With orange colour above Key 3
Uniform brown colour above, (no other colour) Key 6
With some blue, green or purple colour above Key 7
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 2 Go To
Mostly yellow with broad black apical and terminal areas to the FW above, the black is not continuous to the inner margin of the FW Eurema (Terias) smilax
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 3 Go To
Orange areas broken up by pattern Key 4
Orange areas broad and unbroken by pattern Key 5
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 4 Go To
Mostly orange-brown or yellow-orange above, dark markings are prominent, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with silvery white transverse markings and two prominent small eyespots, HW slightly elongated. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Oreixenica kershawi kanunda
Mostly yellow-orange with dark markings above, small eyespots present on FW and HW, underside of HW with silvery white markings (not transversely aligned) and two prominent small eyes, HW rounded. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Oreixenica lathoniella herceus
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 5 Go To
Underside ground colour pale grey, terminal wing margins strongly chequered Lucia limbaria
Underside ground colour pale brown, terminal wing margins not strongly chequered, orange areas above are yellowish. (Likely to be found in the Lower Southeast) Paralucia pyrodiscus
Underside ground colour pale brown, terminal wing margins not strongly chequered, orange areas above are bright orange. (Likely to be found in the Lower Southeast) Paralucia aurifera
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 6 Go To
Upperside brown, FW not strongly pointed, terminal wing margins not chequered, with one or two small black spots near HW tornus beneath, no tails Nacaduba biocellata biocellata (female)
Upperside dark brown, FW strongly pointed, terminal wing margins strongly chequered, no spots near HW tornus beneath, being replaced by two V shaped chevrons Neolucia agricola agricola
Upperside dark brown, FW strongly pointed, terminal wing margins strongly chequered, two small black spots near HW tornus beneath, a short blunt tail. (Found in inland areas) Theclinesthes albocincta (northern dark form)
Upperside dark brown, FW strongly pointed, HW strongly elongated and square shaped, terminal wing margins not chequered, two small black spots near HW tornus beneath, no tails Acrodipsas brisbanensis (male)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 7 Go To
Hindwing with a single tail Key 8
Hindwing without tails Key 9
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 8 Go To
Tails long, not filamentous, underside pale brown colour with brown markings edged white Jalmenus lithochroa
Tails long, not filamentous, underside pale brown colour with black markings. (Likely to be found in the Olary Range) Jalmenus ictinus
Tails long, filamentous, with a white transverse post median bar on each wing beneath Lampides boeticus
Tails short, filamentous, underside with zebra pattern markings, without a white patch in the HW beneath. (Likely to be found in the Far North in domestic gardens) Leptotes plinius pseudocassius
Tails short, filamentous, with a white post median patch in the HW beneath (no transverse white bars), dark post median FW transverse bar straight, males purple above, females purplish blue above Theclinesthes miskini miskini
Tails short, stubby, with a white post median patch in the HW beneath (no transverse white bars), dark post median FW transverse bar not dislocated, male and female both blue above Theclinesthes albocincta (southern blue form)
Tails very short to absent, with a white post median patch in the HW beneath (no transverse white bars), dark post median FW transverse bar strongly dislocated Theclinesthes serpentata serpentata
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 9 Go To
Underside with red and silvery markings Hypochrysops ignitus ignitus
Underside pale brown or brown Key 10
Underside dark brown Key 11
Underside grey or white Key 12
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 10 Go To
Wing expanse > 25 mm, HW rounded Jalmenus icilius
Wing expanse < 25 mm, HW rounded, FW beneath yellowish with few markings, no markings within FW discal-cell beneath, usually with two prominent equal-size black tornal spots on HW beneath Nacaduba biocellata biocellata
Wing expanse < 25 mm, HW rounded, FW beneath greyish with many markings, a bar marking within FW discal-cell beneath, usually with only one prominent tornal spot on HW beneath Prosotas dubiosa dubiosa
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 11 Go To
HW elongated and square shaped Acrodipsas brisbanensis (female)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 12 Go To
FW beneath with large black tornal spots Key 13
FW beneath without large black tornal spots Key 14
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 13 Go To
Upperside blue Erina hyacinthina form simplexa
Upperside purple without a large black tornal patch in HW beneath. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Erina hyacinthina form josephina
Upperside purple with a large black tornal patch in HW beneath Erina acasta
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 14 Go To
Wing expanse > 25 mm Key 15
Wing expanse < 25 mm, wings rounded Key 16
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 15 Go To
Underside uniform silvery white, usually with a terminal row of very small black dots, no prominent black marks at the ends of each wing discal-cell Candalides heathi heathi
Underside uniform silvery grey, usually with a terminal row of very small black dots, prominent black marks at the ends of each wing discal-cell. (Likely to be found in the Southeast) Candalides noelkeri
Underside grey, upperside purple, FW pointed with a trident shaped dark blue sex mark Cyprotides cyprotus cyprotus (male)
Underside grey, upperside blue, FW without trident shaped dark blue sex mark Cyprotides cyprotus cyprotus (female)
Are the butterfly wings ...?
Key 16 Go To
Underside uniform dull white or pale grey with a single large black spot at HW tornus Famegana alsulus alsulus
Underside grey with darker grey blurry markings, no obvious black spots, no spot inside the discal cell of the FW underside Zizina labradus labradus
Underside grey with black spots on both wings, a black spot present inside the discal cell of the FW underside Zizeeria karsandra
Underside grey with black spots on both wings, no spot inside the discal cell of the FW underside, wing expanse very small. (Likely to be found in the Far North) Zizula hylax attenuata
Underside with black, white and grey markings, a white post median patch in HW underside, terminal wing margins strongly chequered Theclinesthes serpentata serpentata