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A checklist of the larval food hosts for the butterflies to be found, or likely to be found, in South Australia.
Families Hesperiidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae and Nymphalidae
(Family Lycaenidae)

The food host list (usually plants for this group of butterflies) is derived from all known documented records, but only those host plants known to occur within South Australia have been listed, either as indigenous natives or introduced cultivars and escapes.  Those host plants featured in bold type are those which butterfly larvae have been found to eat in South Australia.  A single *asterisk denotes the host is an overseas introduction.  Double **asterisks denote the host is an interstate introduction.  Plant identifications have been confirmed by the State Herbarium of South Australian. 


Superfamily HESPERIOIDEA (skippers)
Anisynta cynone cynone Native and introduced grasses, including Austrostipa scabra (rough spear-grass), *Brachypodium distachyon (false brome), *Cynodon dactylon (couch), *Ehrharta calycina (perennial veldt grass), *Piptatherum miliaceum (rice millet), Poa spp (Poaceae).
Anisynta cynone gracilis As above
Dispar compacta Native and introduced grasses incl. *Brachypodium distachyon, *Ehrharta erecta (panic veldt grass), Microlaena stipoides (weeping rice-grass), Poa spp incl. P. tenera (slender tussock grass) (Poaceae); also less frequently on a fine leaved Lomandra sp (Asparagaceae) and Gahnia sp (Cyperaceae). Life History
Pasma tasmanica Native and introduced grasses incl. Microlaena stipoides, Poa spp incl. P. labillardieri (tussock grass) and Tetrarrhena spp (rice-grasses). Life History
Signeta flammeata Native and introduced grasses incl. *Agrostis capillaris (brown-top bent), *Brachypodium distachyon, Poa spp incl. P. tenera, Tetrarrhena spp.
Trapezites eliena Lomandra longifolia (spiny-headed mat-rush), L. filiformis, L. multiflora multiflora (multiflowered mat-rush) (Asparagaceae).
Trapezites luteus luteus Lomandra densiflora (soft-tussock mat-rush), L. filiformis, L. longifolia, L. multiflora ssp dura (hard mat-rush).
Trapezites phigalia Lomandra filiformis in eastern states, which is only present in the southeast of the state as L. filiformis ssp coriacea (wattle mat-rush), also L. densiflora, L. fibrata (Mount Lofty mat-rush), L. multiflora ssp dura, L. nana (small mat-rush), L. sororia (sword mat-rush).
Trapezites sciron eremicola Lomandra collina (pale mat-rush or iron grass).
Trapezites symmomus soma Lomandra longifolia. Life History
Antipodia atralba Gahnia ancistrophylla, G. deusta, G. hystrix (spiky saw-sedge), G. lanigera (black grass saw-sedge)  (Cyperaceae). Life History
Croitana arenaria arenaria Enteropogon acicularis (branching umbrella or curly windmill grass), E. ramosus (tussock umbrella grass or windmill grass) (Poaceae).  Life History
Croitana arenaria pilepudla Austrostipa acrociliata (graceful spear-grass), A. elegantissima (elegant spear-grass), A. platychaeta (flat-awned spear-grass) (Poaceae).  Life History
Herimosa albovenata albovenata Austrostipa eremophila (desert spear-grass), A. scabra (rough spear-grass), A. scabra falcata (delicate spear-grass), A. semibarbata (fibrous spear-grass) (Poaceae). Life History
Proeidosa polysema Triodia pungens (resin or soft spinifex) (Poaceae). Life History
Hesperilla chrysotricha cyclospila Gahnia deusta (mallee saw-sedge), G. filum (thatching grass), G. radula (thatch saw-sedge), G. sieberiana (red-fruit saw-sedge), G. trifida (cutting grass) (Cyperaceae).  Life History
Hesperilla donnysa donnysa Gahnia ancistrophylla (curly leaf saw-sedge), G. clarkei (tall saw-sedge or cutting grass), G. deusta, G. filum, G. radula (thatch saw-sedge), G. sieberiana, G. trifida.  Life History
Hesperilla donnysa donnysa
- form flavescens
Gahnia filum, G. deusta.  Life History
Hesperilla idothea idothea Gahnia clarkei, G. radula, G. sieberiana, G. trifida.   Life History
Hesperilla idothea clara G. sieberiana, G. trifida. Life History
Motasingha trimaculata trimaculata Lepidosperma carphoides (black rapier-sedge), L. concavum (spreading sword-sedge), L. viscidum (sticky sword-sedge), Schoenus spp (bog-rushes) (Cyperaceae).
Subfamily HESPERIINAE (darters and swifts)      Tribe TARACTROCERINI
Cephrenes augiades sperthias Most species of palms (Arecaceae), but prefers those with broad-leaf pinnae like **Archontophoenix spp (bangalow palm), **Livistona spp (cabbage tree palms), and *Phoenix spp (date palms).
Cephrenes trichopepla Most species of palms (Arecaceae).
Ocybadistes walkeri Native and introduced grasses incl. *Brachypodium distachyon, *Bromus spp (brome), *Cynodon dactylon, *Ehrharta erecta (panic veldt grass), *E. longiflora (annual veldt grass), Enteropogon acicularis (branching umbrella grass or curly windmill grass), E. ramosus (tussock umbrella grass or windmill grass), Imperata cylindrica, *Lolium spp (ryegrass), *Panicum sp, *Paspalum vaginatum (salt-water couch), *Pennisetum clandestinum, *Piptatherum miliaceum (rice millet), Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass) (Poaceae); also rarely Dianella sp (flax lilies) (Liliaceae) and the soft leaved sedge Cyperus vaginatus (Stiff Flat-sedge) (Cyperaceae).
Taractrocera anisomorpha Native and introduced grasses incl. *Cenchrus ciliaris (black buffel grass), Enteropogon acicularis, Eulalia aurea (sugar-grass or silky browntop), *Sorghum spp (Poaceae).
Taractrocera ina Native and introduced grasses incl. Urochloa(Brachiaria) spp (arm-grasses), Cymbopogon spp (lemon-scented grasses), *Panicum spp, *Paspalum spp incl. *P. dilatatum, *Sorghum spp (Poaceae).
Taractrocera papyria papyria Native and introduced grasses incl. *Agrostis capillaris, Rytidosperma spp incl. A. caespitosa (common wallaby-grass), Austrostipa scabra, *Cynodon dactylon (couch), Echinopogon spp (rough-bearded or hedgehog grasses), *Ehrharta calycina (perennial veldt grass), *E. erecta, *E. longiflora, Imperata cylindrica (blady or kunai grass), Enteropogon acicularis, Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides (meadow rice-grass), *Paspalum dilatatum, *Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu), Phragmites australis (common reed), *Piptatherum miliaceum (rice millet), Poa spp incl. P. labillardieri, P. sieberiana and P. tenera (Poaceae); also Carex gaudichaudiana (sedge) (Cyperaceae).


Family PAPILIONIDAE (swallowtails)      Subfamily PAPILIONINAE     Tribe PAPILIONINI (fluted swallowtails)
Papilio aegeus aegeus Native and introduced Rutaceae.  Native hosts incl. Citrus(Eremocitrus) glauca (desert lime),**Eriostemon spp (wax flower), **Geijera spp incl. G. parviflora (wilga), **Philotheca spp (wax flower) incl. **P. myoporoides (native daphne), **Phebalium spp, **Zieria spp.  Introduced and preferred hosts include cultivated *Citrus spp, *Citrus(Fortunella) spp, *Citrus(Poncirus) trifoliata, *Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom)
Papilio anactus Native and introduced Rutaceae incl. *Citrus spp, Citrus(Eremocitrus) glauca (desert lime), *Citrus(Fortunella) spp (kumquat), *Citrus(Poncirus) trifoliata (wild orange), Geijera parviflora (wilga) (Rutaceae). Life History
Papilio demoleus sthenelus Normally Cullen(Psoralea) spp incl. C. australasicum (tall scurf-pea), C. cinereum (annual scurf-pea), C. graveolens (native lucerne), C. patens (spreading scurf-pea), *Psoralea pinnata (African scurf-pea) (Fabaceae). Sometimes utilises cultivated *Citrus spp.
Family PIERIDAE (whites and yellows)
Subfamily COLIADINAE (yellows)
Catopsilia pomona pomona Cassia and Senna spp, the tropical and subtropical varieties with larger flowers, incl. **C. brewsteri (cigar cassia), *C. fistula (golden shower), S. pleurocarpa (striped-pod cassia) (Caesalpiniaceae), also Neptunia spp (Mimosaceae).
Catopsilia pyranthe crokera Cassia and Senna spp, the tropical and subtropical varieties with larger flowers, incl. **C. brewsteri, *C. fistula, **S. barclayana (pepper-leaf senna), **S. occidentalis, S. planitiicola (yellow pea or arsenic bush).
Catopsilia scylla etesia Cassia spp, the tropical and subtropical varieties with larger flowers incl. *C. fistula (Caesalpiniaceae); also Tephrosia sp. (Fabaceae).
Eurema(Terias) hecabe Various tropical and subtropical legumes, including **Cassia spp, **Senna spp (Caesalpiniaceae), some Acacia spp incl. **A. baileyana (Cootamundra wattle), *Paraserianthes(Albizia) sp (Mimosaceae), *Aeschynomene sp (Budda pea), Indigofera spp (indigo's), Sesbania cannabina (yellow pea-bush) (Fabaceae)
Eurema(Terias) smilax Cassia and Senna spp incl. *C. fistula, S. artemisioides coriacea (punty bush or desert cassia), S. artemisioides petiolaris (tomentose form - grey cassia, and the glabrous form) (Caesalpiniaceae); also Neptunia spp and **Paraserianthes(Albizia) lophantha lophantha (Cape Leeuwin wattle) (Mimosaceae).  Life History
Subfamily PIERINAE (whites)
Appias paulina ega Drypetes spp (Euphorbiaceae) and Capparis spp (Capparaceae).  It uses the tropical and subtropical species of these plants that grow in rainforest areas. 
Belenois java teutonia Capparis spp incl. C. mitchellii (tree caper), **C. spinosa (bush caper) (Capparaceae). Life History
Delias aganippe Amyema spp incl. A. linophylla (buloke mistletoe), A. melaleucae (melaleuca mistletoe), A. miquelii (box mistletoe), A. pendula (drooping mistletoe), A. preissii (wire-leaf mistletoe), A. quandang var. quandang (grey mistletoe) (Loranthaceae); also Exocarpos aphyllus (stiff cherry), E. cupressiformis (native cherry), E. strictus (dwarf cherry), Santalum acuminatum (quandong), S. lanceolatum (plumbush), S. spicatum (sandalwood) (Santalaceae). Life History
Delias harpalyce Amyema miquelii, A. pendula (drooping mistletoe), A. quandang, Muellerina eucalyptoides (creeping mistletoe) (Loranthaceae).
Elodina padusa Capparis spp incl. C. mitchellii (Capparaceae).  Life History
*Pieris rapae rapae Requires foodplants containing mustard glycosides. These include most plants of the Brassicaceae family incl. *Alyssum spp, *Arabis spp (rock cress), *Barbarea spp (wintercress), cruciferous crops *Brassica spp (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, mustard, radish, rape, turnip), *Cakile spp. incl. *C. edentula (American sea-rocket) and *C. maritima (Two-horned sea-rocket, *Cardamine spp (bitter cress), *Cardaria draba (hoary cress), *Descurainia sophia (flixweed), *Diplotaxis tenuifolia (Lincoln Weed), *Eruca sativa (purple-vein rocket), *Erysimum spp (mustards), *Hesperis spp (rocket), *Hirschfeldia incana (buchan weed), Lepidium spp incl. *L. africanum (peppercress), *Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum), *Lunaria spp (honesty), *Matthiola incana (common stock), *Raphanus sativus (radish), *R. raphanistrum (wild radish), Rorippa spp incl. *R. nasturtium-aquaticum (watercress), *R. palustris (yellow cress), *Sisymbrium spp. incl. *S. irio (London rocket), *S. officinale (hedge mustard) (Brassicaceae); also *Capparis spp, Cleome spp incl. Cleome viscosa (tickweed) (Capparaceae); *Reseda spp (mignonettes) incl. *R. odorata (sweet mignonette) (Resedaceae); *Tropaeolum spp (nasturtiums) incl. *T. majus (Tropaeolaceae); *Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) (Solanaceae). Life History
Family NYMPHALIDAE (brush-footed butterflies)
Subfamily DANAINAE (milk-sap butterflies)
Danaus chrysippus petilia *Asclepias curassavica (red-head cotton-bush),   *Gomphocarpus(Asclepias) fruticosus (garden swan plant or narrow-leaf cotton-bush), *G. physocarpus (balloon cotton-bush), *G. cancellatus(rotundifolia) (broad-leaf cotton-bush), *Calotropis spp incl. *C. procera (king's crown or sodom apple), Cynanchum floribundum (desert cynanchum or native pear), Marsdenia(Leichhardtia) australis (native pear), Rhyncharrhena(Pentatropis) linearis (bush bean or cotton vine), *Orbea(Stapelia) variegata (carrion flower), Sarcostemma spp (Asclepiadaceae).
Danaus plexippus plexippus *Araujia sericifera(hortorum) (cruel plant or white bladder-flower), *Asclepias curassavica, *Gomphocarpus(Asclepias) fruticosus, *G. physocarpus, *G. cancellatus(rotundifolia), *Calotropis spp incl. *C. procera (king's crown), *Orbea(Stapelia) variegata (Asclepiadaceae).  Life History
Euploea core corinna Numerous native and introduced milk-sap plants.  Suitable native plants in S.A. are Carissa ovata (lanceolata) (conker berry) (Apocynaceae); Ficus brachypoda(platypoda) (native fig) (Moraceae); Cynanchum spp (native pears), Marsdenia(Leichhardtia) australis, Sarcostemma viminale australe (caustic bush) (Asclepiadaceae); and introduced plants *Asclepias curassavica, *Gomphocarpus(Asclepias) fruticosus, *G. physocarpus (balloon cotton-bush), *Hoya spp (wax plants) (Asclepiadaceae); *Mandevilla spp (Chilean jasmines), *Nerium oleander, *Trachelospermum spp (star jasmines) (Apocynaceae).
Tirumala hamata hamata Tropical milkweed plants, none of which occur naturally in South Australia.
Subfamily SATYRINAE (browns)     Tribe SATYRINI     Subtribe HYPOCYSTINA
Argynnina cyrila Native and introduced grasses incl. Microlaena stipoides, Poa spp incl. P. meionectes, and probably Tetrarrhena spp (rice-grasses) (Poaceae). Life History
Geitoneura acantha ocrea Native and introduced grasses incl. *Brachypodium distachyon, *Ehrharta longiflora (annual veldt grass), Microlaena stipoides, *Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu), Poa spp incl. P. clelandii (matted tussock grass), P. tenera (slender tussock grass), Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass) (Poaceae).  Life History
Geitoneura klugii Native and introduced grasses incl. Rytidosperma spp, Austrostipa flavescens, *Brachypodium distachyon, *Ehrharta spp incl. *E. calycina (perennial veldt grass), *E. longiflora (annual veldt grass), Poa spp incl. P. labillardieri (tussock grass), P. morrisii, P. tenera, Themeda triandra, *Vulpia sp (Poaceae).  Life History
Heteronympha cordace wilsoni Carex spp incl. C. appressa (tall sedge), C. fascicularis, C. gaudichaudiana (Cyperaceae) and various wetland grasses (Poaceae)
Heteronympha merope merope Native and introduced grasses incl. Austrostipa species (spear grasses), *Agrostis capillaris (brown-top bent), *Brachypodium distachyon, *Bromus catharticus (prairie grass), *Cynodon dactylon (couch), *Ehrharta spp incl. *E. erecta (panic veldt grass), *E. longiflora (annual veldt grass), Imperata cylindrica (blady or kunai grass), Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides (meadow rice-grass), *Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu), Poa spp incl. P. crassicaudex, P. meionectes, P. poiformis (coast tussock grass), *P. pratensis (Kentucky blue-grass), P. tenera, Themeda triandra (Poaceae); also rarely on Gahnia sieberiana (red-fruit saw-sedge) (Cyperaceae). Life History
Heteronympha penelope penelope Native and introduced grasses incl. Rytidosperma pilosa (velvet wallaby-grass), *Brachypodium distachyon (false brome), *Ehrharta erecta, Poa spp incl. P. crassicaudex (tussock grass), P. poiformis, P. tenera, Themeda triandra (Poaceae).
Oreixenica kershawi kanunda Poa spp incl. P. tenera, Tetrarrhena spp (rice-grasses) (Poaceae).
Oreixenica lathoniella herceus Microlaena stipoides (weeping rice-grass), Poa spp incl. P. labillardieri (tussock grass), P. meionectes (Poaceae).
Tisiphone abeona albifascia Gahnia clarkei, G. radula, G. sieberiana (Cyperaceae).
Polyura sempronius Numerous native (eastern states) and introduced ornamental trees, mainly of legume origin. Those suitable for S.A. conditions incl. **Acacia baileyana (Cootamundra wattle), **A. dealbata (silver wattle), **A. decurrens (queen wattle), A. longifolia longifolia (Sydney golden wattle), A. mearnsii (black wattle), **A. podalyriifolia (Mt Morgan wattle), A. pycnantha (golden wattle), **A. saligna (golden wreath wattle), **Paraserianthes(Albizia) lophantha (Cape Leeuwin wattle) (Mimosaceae); *Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust), *Wisteria spp (Fabaceae) *Caesalpinia ferrea (Brazilian ironwood), *C. gilliesii (bird of paradise tree) (Caesalpiniaceae); **Brachychiton acerifolius (Illawarra flame tree), **Brachychiton acerifolius x populneus (flame tree), **B. discolor (white kurrajong), **B. populneus (kurrajong), **Sterculia sp (Sterculiaceae); *Quercus palustris (pin oak) (Fagaceae); *Celtis occidentalis, *C. paniculata, *C. philippensis, *C. sinensis (Portuguese elm) (Ulmaceae); *Cinnamomum camphora (camphor laural) (Lauraceae); *Lagerstroemia indica (crepe myrtle) (Lythraceae); Jasminum sp (native jasmines) (Oleaceae). Life History
Subfamily NYMPHALINAE (nymphs)
Hypolimnas bolina nerina Alternanthera angustifolia (narrow-leaved joyweed), A. denticulata (lesser joyweed) (Amaranthaceae); Dipteracanthus spp, *Ruellia spp (Acanthaceae); *Modiola caroliniana (red-flowered mallow), Sida spp (Malvaceae); Persicaria prostrata (trailing knotweed) (Polygonaceae); *Galinsoga parviflora (yellow weed) (Asteraceae), *Ipomaea spp (sweet potato) (Convolvulaceae).
Junonia villida calybe Numerous native and introduced herbaceous plants incl. *Ruellia sp (Acanthaceae); *Arctotheca calendula, Epaltes australis (spreading nut-heads) (Asteraceae); Evolvulus alsinoides (native convolvulus) (Convolvulaceae); *Centaurium erythraea (common centaury), *C. spicatum (spike centaury) (Gentianaceae); Goodenia spp, incl. G. geniculata, G. pinnatifida (Cut-leaf Goodenia), Scaevola aemula (fairy fanflower) (Goodeniaceae); Plantago spp (plantains) incl. *P. lanceolata (ribgrass or ribwort), *P. major (greater plantain) (Plantaginaceae); Portulaca oleracea (munyeroo, purslane or pigweed) (Portulacaceae); *Antirrhinum majus (garden snapdragon), *Kickxia elatine (toadflax), *Russelia equisetiformis (coral plant), Stemodia florulenta (bluerod), Veronica spp (speedwell) (Scrophulariaceae); *Lantana camara, *Phyla canescens (lippia); *Verbena spp incl. *V. bonariensis (purple-top verbena), *V. officinalis (common verbena) (Verbenaceae); *Scabiosa atropurpurea (scabious) (Dipsacaceae). Life History
Vanessa itea Mainly plants of the Urticaceae family. Parietaria australis, P. cardiostegia (mallee smooth-nettle), P. debilis (smooth nettle), *P. judaica (wall pellitory), *Soleirolia soleirolii (baby's tears), Urtica incisa (scrub or native stinging nettle), *U. urens (stinging nettle); also *Arctotheca calendula (Asteraceae).  Life History
Vanessa kershawi Numerous native and introduced herbs and ornamental plants, mainly Asteraceae incl. **Ammobium alatum (paper daisy), *Arctotheca calendula (cape weed), *Artemisia spp (wormwoods), Asteridea athrixioides f. athrixioides (wirewort), Calocephalus platycephalus (billybuttons), *Carduus spp (prickly thistles), Chrysocephalum apiculatum (common everlasting), C. semipapposum (yellow buttons), *Galinsoga parviflora (yellow weed), *Gamochaeta americana (spiked cudweed), Gnaphalium spp (cudweeds), Helichrysum spp incl. H. scorpioides (button everlasting), Leucochrysum spp (sunrays), *Onopordum acanthium (scotch thistle), *O. illyricum (Illyrian thistle), Pseudognaphalium luteo-album (cudweed), Rhodanthe chlorocephala rosea (western sunray), Xerochrysum bracteata (strawflower); also *Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) (Lamiaceae). Life History
Subfamily HELICONIINAE     Tribe ACRAEINI (glasswings)
Acraea andromacha andromacha Hybanthus aurantiacus (shrub violet) (Violaceae); native Passiflora spp, also some introduced *Passiflora spp incl. *Passiflora(Tacsonia) mollissima (banana passion) (Passifloraceae).


Australia's Virtual Herbarium - Provides butterfly hostplant distribution in Australia
Flora SA - Provides butterfly hostplant distribution in SA


Butterflies have evolved in unison with the evolution of flowering plants (angiosperms).  Butterfly foodplants consist almost entirely of flowering plants.   The recently (1998) published Ordinal Classification for the Families of Flowering Plants based on DNA gene sequences, by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, has inferred the synonymy of the following families of butterfly foodplants (for South Australia).

Asclepiadaceae synonym of Apocynaceae, Chenopodiaceae = Amaranthaceae, Capparaceae = Brassicaceae, Hydrophyllaceae = Boraginaceae, Sterculiaceae = Malvaceae.

Author:  R. GRUND, copyright 1998, all rights reserved.   Last update 25 July 2009. 


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