SOUTH AUSTRALIAN BUTTERFLIES

WHAT BUTTERFLY IS THAT ?

A KEY FOR IDENTIFYING SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SKIPPERS

 

The following table is a key for the identification of skippers, 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. 

South Australian skippers are identifiable by the colour pattern of the underside of the hindwing, which is also the part most readily seen in the field.  The upperside patterns are all very similar.  Skippers are mostly small in size with a wing expanse < 50 mm.  Within each of the below colour groups the skippers have been graded according to their wing expanse, with the largest placed at the top of the group and the smallest at the bottom. 

Skippers are difficult to identify, but use of the key in combination with the photographs and the distribution of the skipper should enable you to eventually arrive at the correct ID.

 

1 HW underside predominant colour cream or yellow   (go to)               2
  HW underside predominant colour orange-brown or red-brown 3
  HW underside predominant colour brown 4
  HW underside predominant colour grey or grey-brown 5
2 HW ground colour yellow suffused orange, with a broad straight pale-orange post median band edged black, and a black tornal patch.   Uppersides pale orange and black.  Antennae clubs strongly bent. May turn up in the Far North where palms are grown in gardens Cephrenes trichopepla
Wing expanse  38 - 44 mm
  HW ground colour yellow, with a single large white median discal-cell spot edged black.  Antennae clubs strongly bent Trapezites luteus luteus
32 -38 mm
  HW ground colour creamy yellow, with a poorly developed, broad curved cream coloured median band, diminishing towards both the costal and inner margins; broadly edged dark brown (suffused yellow when the skipper is new), central outer side of band prominent, not double pronged. Terminal wing margins chequered.  Antennae clubs strongly bent.  (Found in the Far North) Croitana aestiva
24 - 34 mm
  HW ground colour creamy yellow, with a broad curved cream coloured very irregular median band, broadly edged dark brown (suffused yellow when the skipper is new), central outer side of band double pronged.   Terminal wing margins strongly chequered.  Antennae clubs strongly bent.  (Found in the Far North) Croitana arenaria arenaria
22 - 26 mm
  HW ground colour creamy yellow, with a broad curved cream coloured very irregular median band, broadly edged dark brown (suffused yellow when the skipper is new), central outer side of band rounded, not double pronged   Terminal wing margins strongly chequered.  Antennae clubs strongly bent.  (Found on north Eyre Peninsula and further north) Croitana arenaria pilepudla
28 - 32 mm
  HW ground colour yellow, markings obscure, antennae clubs bent.  FW upperside brown areas dusted yellow.  Male with a post median sex brand on FW upperside, broad shining black and very obvious Ocybadistes walkeri hypochlorus
24 - 26 mm
  HW ground colour greenish yellow, an irregular yellow post median band (paler than rest of wing), antennae clubs bent.  Male with a post median sex brand on FW upperside, broad shining black and very obvious.   (Presently found in the Riverland) Ocybadistes walkeri sothis
24 - 26 mm
  HW ground colour yellow, but suffused brown when worn, an indistinct discal-cell spot and short post median band (paler than rest of wing).  Antennae clubs flattened, spoon shaped, not obviously bent.  Male with a narrow, obscure post median sex brand, discontinuous and irregular.  On forewing upperside, costal and postmedian yellow bands joined or nearly joined apically.  (Found in the Far North) Taractrocera anisomorpha
21 - 26 mm
  HW ground colour yellow sometimes suffused brown, with a straight white post median band.  Male with a very narrow, continuous post median sex brand, shining black. Antennae clubs are flattened, spoon shaped, not obviously bent Taractrocera papyria papyria
20 - 24 mm
  HW ground colour yellow, suffused orange-brown, a yellowish discal-cell spot and post median band (paler than rest of wing).  Antennae clubs flattened, spoon shaped, not obviously bent.  Male without a sex brand.  On forewing upperside, costal and postmedian yellow bands segmented apically.  (Likely to be found in the Far North) Taractrocera ina
24 - 26 mm
3 Wing expanse large about 50 mm.  HW ground colour reddish orange-brown with a large silvery white median discal-cell spot edged black, and a broad irregular curved silvery white discontinuous post median band edged black.  (Found in the Lower Southeast) Trapezites symmomus soma
48 - 52 mm
  HW ground colour reddish brown with a curved post median row of very small obscure black spots, but without a large white median discal-cell spot.  Specimens from the Lower Southeast belong to H.i. idothea, specimens from the Mt Lofty Range and Kangaroo Island belong to H.i. clara. Hesperilla idothea
40 - 46 mm
  HW ground colour pale orange-brown with a large white median discal-cell spot edged black, and a curved post median row of very small sometimes white centred obscure black spots. (Found in the Lower Southeast) Trapezites eliena
36 - 44 mm
  HW ground colour reddish orange-brown, without white spots, but with a broad straight pale orange post median band (paler than rest of wing), and a black tornal patch.  Uppersides orange and black Cephrenes augiades sperthias (male)
38 - 44 mm
  HW ground colour orange-brown with a broad curved white discontinuous post median band edged black basally, and two large irregular white spots in the discal-cell area.  Upperside ground colour dark brown.  (Found coastally east of the Mt Lofty Range) Anisynta cynone cynone
24 - 28 mm
  HW ground colour reddish brown, with an obscure large white median patch and a dark red-brown post median patch, the terminal area is whitish.  (Found in the Southeast) Dispar compacta (female)
22 - 26 mm
4 HW ground colour purplish orange-brown, without white spots, but with a straight yellowish brown post median band (usually obscure). Uppersides dark brown with obscure paler markings Cephrenes augiades sperthias (female)
38 - 44 mm
  HW ground colour dull brown, with a large single white median discal-cell spot edged dark brown, and a further curved post median row of unequal sized white spots, elongated basally and which may or may not be edged dark brown. Hesperilla chrysotricha cyclospila
34 - 42 mm
  HW ground colour brown, with a prominent single white median discal-cell spot edged dark brown, and three similar but smaller post median spots, circular shaped Motasingha trimaculata trimaculata
32 - 40 mm
  HW ground colour brown, veins strongly marked in silvery white Herimosa albovenata albovenata 28 - 34 mm
  HW ground colour dull brownish-yellow, with one or two small, basal yellow spots edged dark brown, and a further curved post median row of similar spots.  Wing markings above small, cream coloured.  (Found in the Far North-west) Proeidosa polysema
28 - 34 mm
  HW ground colour brown with a broad curved white discontinuous post median band edged black basally, and two large irregular white spots in the discal-cell area.  Upperside ground colour greyish brown.  (Found west of Mt Lofty Range)  Anisynta cynone gracilis
24 - 28 mm
  HW ground colour pale brown, with a straight silvery white post median band.  Antennae clubs strongly bent.  (Found in the Southeast) Dispar compacta (male)
22 - 26 mm
5 HW ground colour pinkish grey, with a dark brown or black median discal-cell spot with or without an infilling of pale yellow, and a further curved post median row of similar spots.  FW upperside only partly suffused yellow Hesperilla donnysa donnysa
- dark and intermediate forms
30 - 42 mm
  HW ground colour yellowish pink-grey, with a pale yellow median discal-cell spot with or without an edging of dark brown, and a further curved post median row of similar spots.  FW upperside strongly suffused yellow to the wing termens. Hesperilla donnysa donnysa
- pale form flavescens
30 - 42 mm
  HW ground colour grey, with a large brown median discal-cell ring-spot (no infill colour), and a further curved post median row of similar ring-spots strongly elongated basally Antipodia atralba
30 - 38 mm
  HW ground colour grey suffused brown, with a dark brown median discal-cell ring-spot (no infill colour), and a further curved post median row of similar ring-spots elongated basally.  A large black area in the FW above and below containing a large squarish shaped yellow spot. (Found in the Adelaide Hills) Trapezites phigalia
30 - 34 mm
  HW ground colour dark grey suffused brown, with a small dull white median discal-cell spot edged black, and a curved post median row of black irregularly shaped spots.  Wing markings above prominent, yellow.  Males with a large black oval shaped sex mark on upperside of FW without a central square yellow spot.  (Found in the Lower Southeast) Signeta flammeata
30 - 34 mm
  HW ground colour grey suffused brown, with a small white median discal-cell spot edged brown, and a further curved post median row of similar spots.  Wing markings above drab, pale yellow.  (Found in mallee areas) Trapezites sciron  eremicola
28 - 32 mm
  HW ground colour grey, with a curved post median row of small brown spots or open rings, including at least two conspicuous small white adjacent spots that are also visible on the wing upperside.  (Likely to be found in the Lower Southeast) Pasma tasmanica
23 - 26 mm

 

Author:  R. GRUND,  copyright 11 August 1999, all rights reserved.