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I got lucky

May 11, 2020

Autumn is the time of year when for butterflies the result of all that frantic summer mating becomes obvious. There is now an army of caterpillars marching across the landscape devouring vegetation. It is a relatively easy thing to identify a butterfly. Their colours and shapes are very obvious, the number of species in any district is limited and there are a number of excellent resources for identifying them. The chance of identifying a caterpillar however is more fraught.

Yesterday I noticed an unknown caterpillar walking along a branch (pictured above). The difficulty in identifying it was that not only could it be the larva of a butterfly, it could also be the larva of a moth or not be a lepidopteran larva at all. So where do you start. For me, given it was a rainy Saturday morning I decided to go to one my favourite websites for butterflies and moths (http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au) and simply scroll through the caterpillar pictures (not a very scientific approach I know).

After several hours of fascinating photos I was about to give up and there it was – a Meadow Argus caterpillar (Junonia villida), a local species. The Meadow Argus is a butterfy of Australia and the South Pacific islands. Generally orange/brown in colour the wings have blue ‘eye spots’ used to frighten predators away. On the underside of the forewings there are also eye-spots used for the same purpose when the wings are in a vertical position.

As far as caterpillar id goes, I got lucky!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Geoff Leslie permalink
    May 11, 2020 10:49 am

    I like the Meadow Argus – it is quite easy to identify. They are actually one of the most aggressive butterflies, which sounds weird. But they take up a perch in my garden and fly up to combat any other flying thing that comes too close, especially other butterflies. Sounds like an oxymoron – aggressive butterfly.

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