12 September, 2008

Leafwing Butterfly

The Australian Leafwing, Doleschallia bisaltide, has some interesting habits as a larva and as an adult. The eggs are often laid on the flower buds of a native herb, Pseuderanthenum variabile. The young yellow to tan Caterpillar will eat one or two buds before starting on the leaves. During peak breeding season multiple eggs can be found on the one inflorescence. During the heat of the day the larvae hide under leaves. They come out in the late afternoon to start feeding. The larvae are capable of fairly rapid movement and will eat more than one plant before pupating. I have not recorded cannibalism or read of it in this species but it would not surprise me as the number of young larvae will drop dramatically when there is an over abundance. They leave their food plant before pupating in a sheltered spot about a metre off the ground, suspended head down by the cremaster.
As adults they often fly low to the ground but can be seen flying up into trees where they will hang onto a twig below a leaf, mimicking a dead leaf with their wings closed. They will more often land on the ground. When disturbed they have a strong flight but usually do not fly far before again adopting a camouflage position. The colours and patterns of the underwing are highly variable. The females have slightly more rounded wings than the males. The hindwing extends into a short tail which can resemble the leaf stem when the butterfly is at rest.

This individual has overwintered here. I can be sure that it is the same one because of the slightly deformed wings easily visible below.


Mosura said...

What a magnificent butterfly! Great pics!

Junior Lepid said...

What Mosura said. What a stunning butterfly and ofgood size as well.