SOUTH AUSTRALIAN BUTTERFLIES

BUTTERFLY GARDENING


DATA SHEET FOR THE COMMON URBAN BUTTERFLIES


For more details on food plants check the Foodplant and Habitat Restoration tables.

 

augiades_s.jpg (12508 bytes)

Orange Palm-dart (Cephrenes augiades)
Foodplant:  Palms.
Remarks: A new arrival to the Adelaide area from the tropical north, and not fully established.  Caterpillars may make obvious holes in the palm fronds which will not appeal to some people.  The butterfly requires sheltered conditions.

hypochlorus_s.jpg (6625 bytes) Southern Grass-dart (Ocybadistes walkeri)
Foodplant:  Leafy grasses (that remain green over summer) growing in moist areas.
Remarks:  Likes rank lawn grasses.
papyria_s.jpg (6925 bytes) White-banded Grass-dart (Taractrocera papyria)
Foodplant:  Leafy grasses (that remain green over summer) growing in sunny moist areas.
Remarks:   Likes rank lawn grasses.
anactus_s.jpg (12345 bytes) Dingy Swallowtail (Papilio anactus)
Foodplant:  Citrus trees, particularly lemons and oranges.
Remarks:  Caterpillars will need thinning from young plants.
rapae_s.jpg (7006 bytes) Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Foodplant:  Only uses plants containing mustard oils.  The best garden plants are nasturtiums.
klugii_s.jpg (10556 bytes) Common Xenica (Geitoneura klugii)
Foodplant:  Leafy grasses. 
Remarks:  Often uses kangaroo grass.  The butterfly is more likely to be found in areas adjacent to reserves containing native grasses.
Common Brown (Heteronympha merope)
Foodplant:  Leafy grasses.
Remarks:  Often uses kangaroo grass, and will also use rank lawn grasses.  The butterfly is more likely to be found in areas adjacent to reserves containing native grasses.
Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius)
Foodplant:  Many introduced ornamental trees including Cootamundra wattle
(Acacia baileyana), albizia or Cape Leeuwin wattle, kurrajongs (Brachychiton species), black locust or false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia).
Remarks:  A very large new arrival to the Adelaide area, originally from Queensland and New South Wales, now breeding in Adelaide. 
villida_s.jpg (9734 bytes) Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)
Foodplant:  Many common herbs including centaury, fanflowers (Goodenia and Scaevola), common ribwort, portulaca, scabious, snapdragon, toadflax, lippia and verbena.
Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)
Foodplant:  Many Compositae plants including cape-weed, straw flower, native everlasting daisies, wirewort.
itea_s.jpg (8038 bytes) Australian Admiral (Vanessa itea)
Foodplant:  Mostly plants of the stinging nettle family including stinging nettles, baby's tears and pellitory.
Remarks:  Stinging nettles are the caterpillar preference, but these are not a good garden choice if young children are likely to be present.  Baby's tears and pellitory may be a good substitute.  The foodplants are suitable for the wet shady areas of the garden.
chrysippus_s.jpg (11187 bytes) Lesser Wanderer (Danaus chrysippus)
Foodplant:  Milk-weed plants including the swan plant and cotton-bushes.  Native hosts are the native pears (Cynanchum and Marsdenia).
Remarks:  The milkweeds have poisonous white sap and children need instruction on this point.  The swan shaped seed capsules should be removed from the plant to prevent it from shedding its floating seeds into surrounding areas.  Caterpillars prefer the cotton bushes but these are more likely to develop into weeds in the native habitat.
plexippus_s.gif (12732 bytes) Wanderer (Danaus plexippus)
Foodplant:  Milk-weed plants including the swan plant and cotton-bushes.
Remarks:  The milkweeds have poisonous white sap and children need instruction on this point.  The swan shaped seed capsules should be removed from the plant to prevent it from shedding its floating seeds into surrounding areas.  Caterpillars prefer the cotton bushes but these are more likely to develop into weeds in the native habitat.  All you need to know about the Wanderer.
boeticus_s.jpg (11209 bytes) Long-tailed Pea-blue (Lampides boeticus)
Food plant:  Numerous native and introduced pea-plants including birdflower bushes (Crotalaria), running postman or scarlet runner (Kennedia), sweet-pea, lupins, garden beans and peas, verbines, bush-peas, Sturt’s desert pea, cockies tongue (Templetonia).   Caterpillars eat the flowers and young seeds in the seed pods.
labradus_s.jpg (9311 bytes) Common Grass-blue (Zizina labradus)
Food plants:  Numerous native and introduced pea-plants including garden beans and peas, clover, lucernes and medics, bush-peas, verbines (Cullen or Psoralea) and native lilac (Hardenbergia).  Caterpillars eat leaves and flowers.

 

The following caterpillars should not be confused with butterfly caterpillars.

The woolly-bear caterpillars  belong to moths.  There are many kinds of moths with woolly type caterpillars.  The black woolly bear caterpillars seen during the winter months, usually belong to the Back and White Tiger Moth, having white wings with black spots, and an orange-red body marked black.  It is about the same size as the cabbage white butterfly.  Eggs are laid by the thousands when this moth flies in autumn. 

The cutworm and looper caterpillars also belong to moths.  The cutworm moths are sombre coloured, often dark brown with a small blue or silver patch in the forewing.   They are usually smaller in size than the cabbage white, although the large Bogong moth belongs to this group.  The looper moths (Geometrids) are highly variable in colour and size, some of which are prettily coloured.

The black woolly bear and cutworm caterpillars are garden pests and will devour just about anything green, and the caterpillars will not be missed if you happen to tread on a few of them after finding them on your favourite plant.  There is a warning note here though, in that the caterpillars of the Australian Painted Lady, the Australian Admiral and the Meadow Argus may be confused with a woolly bear caterpillar.  The latter caterpillar does not have branched hairs, whereas the former have spiny hairs that are branched!  A further word of warning, as there are also some cup moth caterpillars with branched hairs that inflict an extremely painful sting, just like a sea anemone!

Most of the commercial fruit, crop and garden damage is done by common species of moths, but unfortunately pesticides are non-selective between moth and butterfly caterpillars.

 

 

Author:  R. GRUND, copyright 1999, all rights reserved.   Last update 21 January 2002.