30 Butterfly Species in South Australia

South Australia is home to a diverse range of butterfly species, each with unique markings and behaviours.

This article explores 30 prominent species, providing you with an understanding of their attributes and locations.

From the well-known Monarch to the less familiar Fringed Heath-blue, you’ll discover the colourful world of South Australian butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterflies are an iconic species that grace South Australia with their presence. These butterflies will draw you in with their charm and beauty.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

  • Habitat: Monarchs inhabit a wide array of environments, from built-up areas to natural bushes.
  • Appearance: They sport distinctive orange and black patterns, with white spots circling the border of their wings.
  • Size: Monarchs measure about 3.7 to 4.1 inches (9.5 to 10.5 cm) in wingspan – they are one of the larger species of butterflies.
  • Diet: Their primary nutrient source comes from flower nectar, complemented with water and decaying organic material for hydration and salts.
  • Reproduction: Monarchs lay eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves. After two weeks, the caterpillars emerge.
  • Lifespan: Monarchs live for about 6 to 8 weeks during the summer months, while the super generation that migrates can live for 6 to 8 months.
  • Host Plants: Monarchs are particularly fond of milkweed, a plant they depend upon for reproduction purposes.

Feasting your eyes on the stunning Monarch Butterfly is truly a sight to behold.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

You will often find the Painted Lady residing in fields, parks, and gardens. Its attraction to these habitats makes it an easy spot and an absolute delight for butterfly watchers.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Fields, parks, gardens.
  • Appearance: It displays a beautiful combination of orange, brown, and black on its wings, with splashes of white.
  • Size: This medium-sized butterfly measures about 2-3 inches (5-7.6 centimeters) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars prefer thistles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants. Each individual goes through the typical egg, larvae, pupa, and adult stages.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan ranges from 2-4 weeks. The migrating species may live up to 6-7 months.
  • Host Plants: Thistles (Carduus), Mallow (Malva), and Hollyhock (Alcea) are among their host plants.

Whether you are a casual onlooker or a dedicated lepidopterist, the Painted Lady is indeed a butterfly species to marvel at. Make a point to watch out for them in your next outdoor adventure.

Remember, each butterfly you notice is more than just a pretty sight; it’s a vital part of our ecosystem.

Common Grass-blue (Zizina labradus)

Commonly found in South Australia, the Common Grass-blue (Zizina labradus) is an unassuming, yet captivating butterfly.

Common Grass-blue (Zizina labradus)


  • Habitat: This species can survive in numerous environments, ranging from urban areas to coastal lands.
  • Appearance: Its mesmerizing iridescent blue color, paired with a brown margin, lends them their visually appealing appeal.
  • Size: Small but noticeable, it spans about 1 inch, or 2.5cm.
  • Diet: They feed on the tasty nectar of a variety of flower species.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plants. When hatched, the caterpillars then proceed to chew their way through leaves.
  • Lifespan: The common butterflies usually live for about 1 week, though the whole life cycle from egg to adult spans around 1 month.
  • Host Plants: Desmodium, Glycine, and Lotus are the preferred host plants, providing a nurturing environment for their caterpillars.

With these features, the Common Grass-blue stands as a testament to the diversity and beauty in South Australia’s butterfly fauna.

Bright-eyed Brown (Heteronympha cordace)

Delve deeper into the world of butterflies with the unique Bright-eyed Brown butterfly. These mesmerizing creatures flourish in the South Australian wilderness.

Heteronympha cordace (Bright-eyed Brown)

  • Habitat: You’ll typically find them in grassland, woodland, and urban areas. They’re adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments.
  • Appearance: They display a beautiful palette of brown tones, embellished by a few vibrant blue spots on the hindwing underside.
  • Size: These creatures span an impressive 1.4 to 1.6 inches (3.5 to 4 cm) wingtip to wingtip.
  • Diet: As adults, they relish nectar from diverse flowers. As caterpillars, they prefer various grass species.
  • Reproduction: Females lay tiny round eggs on host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars in about a week.
  • Lifespan: Adults may survive for several weeks, while the whole lifecycle spans about 2-3 months.
  • Host Plants: They rely on a range of native and introduced grasses as host plants, including Microlaena stipoides.

Enjoy the sight of these dazzling insects during your next visit to the South Australian outdoors.

Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)

One of South Australia’s spectacular butterfly species is the Australian Painted Lady.

Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

  • Habitat: It largely inhabits urban areas, forests, and woodlands.
  • Appearance: It displays a beautiful blend of colours. The upper side of the wings has an orange hue, with black spots and white bars on the dark tipped forewings.
  • Size: With a wingspan of roughly 1.8-2.2 inches (45-55mm), it’s a moderate-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults feed primarily on nectar from a range of flowering plants, while the caterpillars consume vegetation from host plants.
  • Reproduction: The female butterflies lay greenish ridged eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Although the lifespan varies, adult Australian Painted Ladies generally live for around 2-4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, with the favourites being cudweed and everlasting daisy.

The Australian Painted Lady is an attractive addition to the biodiversity of South Australia.

Common Brown (Heteronympha merope)

The Common Brown butterfly, also known as Heteronympha merope, is one of the emblematic butterflies in South Australia.

Common Brown butterfly

Notably, it’s a significant member of the butterfly population in this region, mainly due to its highly adaptive nature.

  • Habitat: Common Browns reside in urban areas, grasslands, and forests.
  • Appearance: Its upper wings are a blend of black and orange-brown, with females being paler and larger.
  • Size: Males are about 2 inches (50mm) wide, while females can measure up to 2.4 inches (60mm).
  • Diet: Adult Common Browns feed on nectar from flowers, like the everlasting daisy.
  • Reproduction: The females lay pale-green eggs, singly, on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: On average, their adult life lasts up to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The larvae mainly eat various grasses, including Wallaby Grass and Kangaroo Grass.

This butterfly, with cryptic patterns and colors, plays an important role in pollination of plants within its habitat.

Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)

The Meadow Argus is an enchanting butterfly species native to South Australia.

Meadow Argus butterfly

  • Habitat: Found in various settings, the Meadow Argus thrives in urban areas, forest edges, and even subtropical forests.
  • Appearance: Exhibiting a rich mosaic pattern, their wings display a unique eye-like design. The upper side is mostly dark brown while the underside is lighter with intricate markings.
  • Size: Within a size range of 1.6 to 1.9 inches (4 to 5 cm), the Meadow Argus is of a modest size.
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feed on plants, while adult Meadow Argus are known for their fondness for nectar from numerous flower species.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce via egg-laying on host plants and their round, white eggs are fairly easy to identify.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy for them averages around 11 months, which is quite lengthy in the butterfly world.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars favor the Hibiscus family plants in addition to other species.

Wood White (Leptosia nina)

One of the remarkable butterfly species that inhabit South Australia is the ‘Wood White’ or scientifically known as ‘Leptosia nina’.

Wood White butterfly

These insects possess unique characteristics that set them apart.

  • Habitat: They occupy open, light forests and woodland areas, often seen flying close to the ground.
  • Appearance: Wood Whites have pale, semi-transparent wings with a white hue. The male has a single black dot on its wings, while the female has two.
  • Size: These butterflies are relatively small, boasting a wingspan of 1.3-1.7 inches, roughly 35-45 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adult Wood Whites sustain on nectar from flowers, in addition to occasionally indulging in aphid honeydew.
  • Reproduction: Typically, they produce two broods a year, with females laying their eggs on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They generally live for about a month in their adult butterfly form.
  • Host Plants: The Wood White larvae feed on plants such as wild pea and trefoil.

This species stands as a significant part of South Australia’s diverse ecological landscape.

Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius)

The Tailed Emperor, scientifically recognized as Polyura sempronius, is quite a sight.

Tailed Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find it in deciduous woodland and dry, tropical forests throughout South Australia.
  • Appearance: These butterflies have a unique feature. The rear wings have long tails resembling those of swallow birds. The upper side is black mixed with white and blue patches, earning it the name Tailed Emperor.
  • Size: The Tailed Emperor measures about 2.8 to 3.1 inches (70-80mm). It’s considered one of the larger species in South Australia.
  • Diet: Nectar is the main diet of these butterflies. But caterpillars feed on leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Eggs are laid individually on the host plant. After hatching, caterpillars consume leaves.
  • Lifespan: Short yet sweet. The typical lifespan ranges between just 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The favorite plants include wattles (Acacia species), Ficus, and Plumeria. These are perfect environments for laying eggs and feeding caterpillars.

Certainly, the Tailed Emperor is a splendid creature that contributes significantly to the ecosystem of South Australia.

Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia)

The Lesser Wanderer is an incredible species worth exploring.

Lesser Wanderer butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly is found in various habitats including gardens, forests, and open landscapes across South Australia.
  • Appearance: The Lesser Wanderer sports brownish-orange wings with black veins and white spots, giving it a captivating look.
  • Size: It’s relatively small compared to other species, measuring about 1.77 inches (4.5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies are fond of nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars enjoy feeding on the leaves of milkweed plants.
  • Reproduction: Lesser Wanderers reproduce through laying eggs on milkweed leaves. The eggs hatch into larvae that eventually transform into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: They live for about 2 to 6 weeks, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of Lesser Wanderers largely feed on milkweeds.

Don’t be fooled by the Lesser Wanderer’s size; its survival skills are noteworthy, with flexibility in its diet and excellent adaptability to various habitats.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Welcome to the world of the ‘Cabbage White’, a species that has spread from Europe to South Australia.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: Found in open fields, gardens, meadows, and along roadsides.
  • Appearance: Renowned for its white or pale yellowish wings, complete with black spots. Dark tips are present on the forewings in females.
  • Size: Advertisers a wingspan between 1.6 to 2.6 inches (4 to 6.5 cm), comfortably making it medium-sized for a butterfly.
  • Diet: Feasts primarily on nectar from flowers like aster, mint, and mustard.
  • Reproduction: Females lay yellowish cone-shaped eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespace: In South Australia, they typically live for 2-3 weeks during the warmer months of Dec-Apr.
  • Host Plants: Well-known for its association with cultivated cabbages and other members of the mustard family. However, it isn’t too picky and can adapt to various other plants too.

The Cabbage White definitely adds a dash of elegance to the butterflies of South Australia!

Eastern Ringed Xenica (Geitoneura acantha)

Eastern Ringed Xenica is one of the butterfly species you can find in South Australia. Here’s what you need to know about these fascinating insects.

Eastern Ringed Xenica #1

  • Habitat: Eastern Ringed Xenica thrives in forests, woodland areas, and grassy woodlands.
  • Appearance: The butterfly boasts a brown upper side with intricate ring patterns and has a dull underside.
  • Size: This butterfly measures at 1.2 inches (3 cm) in size, fitting in your palm.
  • Diet: As adults, their diet consists of nectar from various plants.
  • Reproduction: Mating is seasonal and usually takes place during spring and autumn.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is typically from 1 to 2 months.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars prefer to feed on grass species.

The Eastern Ringed Xenica is indeed a butterfly to marvel at. It’s small but boasts distinctive patterns, reminding us of nature’s myriad surprises.

Whether you’re a butterfly aficionado or just curious about nature, meeting the Eastern Ringed Xenica is an awe-inspiring encounter.

Australian Admiral (Vanessa itea)

The Australian Admiral, or Vanessa itea, is a captivating butterfly species you’ll likely encounter in South Australia.

Australian Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: They inhabit eucalyptus woodlands, urban areas, and coastal dunes.
  • Appearance: They are black, with white patches on the wingtips and orange streaks on the underwings.
  • Size: Their wingspan measures at around 2.5-3 inches (65-75mm), making them relatively large.
  • Diet: This butterfly feeds mainly on nectar, favoring plants like Buddleia.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on nettle plants where the larvae will feed after hatching.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is about 12-14 weeks, relatively long for a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Their main host plants are the Australian native nettles.

The Australian Admiral’s striking contrast in color, as well as their unique nettle-host relationship, endear them to both locals and tourists alike. Truly, they are a sight to behold in the wild.

Small Grass-yellow (Eurema smilax)

The Small Grass-yellow is a subtle delight in the palette of butterflies South Australia is privileged to host.

Small Grass-yellow butterfly

  • Habitat: Lush meadows and grasslands are where this butterfly mainly resides.
  • Appearance: A stunning blend of pale yellow and white adorns the wings with black markings on the tips.
  • Size: Fairly small, usually measuring around 1.3 – 1.6 inches (3.3 – 4 cm).
  • Diet: The Small Grass-yellow’s diet primarily consists of nectars from various plants.
  • Reproduction: Every year, several generations of these butterflies are born, with warm weather speeding up the process.
  • Lifespan: An impressive 7 – 8 months, making them one of the longest-living butterfly species in South Australia.
  • Host Plants: Its caterpillars feed on the leaves of plants like Cassia and Senna.

The Small Grass-yellow contributes significantly to the biodiversity of South Australia and adds a splash of color to the beautiful landscapes.

Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus)

Chequered Swallowtail, or also known as the Lime Swallowtail, belongs to the Papilionidae family.

Chequered Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: These creatures enjoy residing in open woodlands and city gardens.
  • Appearance: Their wings feature a vibrant combination of black and yellow checkered pattern.
  • Size: The wingspan of these beauties can range from 80-100mm, or 3.1-3.9in.
  • Diet: In terms of diet, the adults prefer to feed on nectar from different flower varieties.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single spherical eggs on the new leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan is about 3 to 4 weeks. However, the entire life cycle from egg to adult can take a couple of months.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae mainly feed on citrus plants. This includes varieties like the lime or lemon trees.

Blue Argus (Junonia orithya)

The Blue Argus is a butterfly species known for its striking blue color and distinct eyespots.

Blue Argus butterfly

These fluttering beauties are native to South Australia and can be quickly identified by their unique appearance.

  • Habitat: Blue Argus orithya can be found across various types of environments, including gardens, coastal areas, and forests.
  • Appearance: Predominantly blue with intricate black patterns, the wings may also have flashes of violet and tinges of brown near the edges.
  • Size: The size of this butterfly ranges from 1.8 to 2.2 inches (4.5 to 5.5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: These butterflies are lovers of nectar. They visit many varieties of flowers to feed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants. The larvae then eat the leaves once they hatch.
  • Lifespan: The Blue Argus orithya typically live between two to four weeks in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae feed on different plants including LinumVitex, and Ziziphus species.

In South Australia, the Blue Argus butterfly undoubtedly adds an irreplaceable layer of beauty and charm to the local biodiversity.

Pale Grass-blue (Pseudozizeeria maha)

The Pale Grass-blue, scientifically named Pseudozizeeria maha, is a familiar sight in selected areas of South Australia.

Pale Grass-blue butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll primarily find it in grasslands, open areas, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They stand out with their pale, bluish-grey color and tiny white dots on their wings.
  • Size: Quite small, the Pale Grass-blue measures about 0.8-1 inch (20-25mm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the host plant’s leaf buds.
  • Lifespan: This species doesn’t live long, usually 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: They lay eggs predominantly on Oxalis species, but may also utilize other plants.

This little creature may seem simple, but its successful survival in the harsh Australian conditions is a testament to its adaptability.

Australian Skipper (Anisynta dominula)

The Australian Skipper, scientifically known as Anisynta dominula, is a striking species of butterfly that is native to South Australia.

Two-brand Grass-skipper, Anisynta dominula

  • Habitat: They can be typically found in open grassy areas, dry forests, and woodlands.
  • Appearance: This butterfly flaunts a dark brown color with a distinctive orange band on the edge of the wings. It also shows off some white specks on the wings’ tips.
  • Size: The Australian Skipper is a small-sized butterfly, averaging about 1.2 inches (3 cm) in wing span.
  • Diet: They feed mainly on flower nectar but they also have a special fondness for Acanthus mollis.
  • Reproduction: Females deposit their eggs on leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They have a short life span. From egg to adult, the cycle lasts roughly four weeks.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed primarily on the Kangaroo Paw and the Paroo Lily.

This butterfly is a typical example of the diversity and adaptability of butterfly species in South Australia.

Greenish Grass-dart (Ocybadistes walkeri)

The Greenish Grass-dart is one of the splendid butterflies you could encounter in South Australia. This butterfly species belongs to the Hesperiidae family and is known for its swift flying speed.

Greenish Grass-dart butterfly

  • Habitat: They usually inhabit grasslands, open woodland, and suburban areas.
  • Appearance: The adult butterflies have a lovely green sheen on their dark brown wings. Male has a darker hue compared to the female.
  • Size: Their wingspan extends approximately 1 inch or 2.5 cm.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed primarily on nectar while the larvae prefer grass species.
  • Reproduction: They lay their tiny pale green eggs on the underside of grass leaves.
  • Lifespan: The elusive information regarding the lifespan of this unique butterfly is yet to be precisely defined.
  • Host Plants: Lamb’s Tongue (Plantago lanceolata) and Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare) are the main host plants for the larvae.

The beauty of Greenish Grass-dart never fails to catch the eye of nature enthusiasts.

Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii)

The Marbled Xenica is an Australian native butterfly. It’s favored for its unique characteristics and behavior.

Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii) - male

  • Habitat: Largely found in open forests, meadows, and parks.
  • Appearance: It has a striking pattern of black, brown, and white across the wings, similar to a marble pattern.
  • Size: Adult butterflies have a wing span of about 1.2 to 1.4 inches (30 to 35mm).
  • Diet: Primarily feeds on nectar from a variety of plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on the underside of the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Winged adults live approximately 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae feed on several species of ‘Poa,’ ‘Danthonia,’ and other grasses.

By observing Marbled Xenicas in their natural habitat or in your garden, you can appreciate their intricate flight patterns as they manoeuvre in search of nectar and host plants for their young.

Amethyst Hairstreak (Jalmenus icilius)

As you continue your butterfly journey, meet the Amethyst Hairstreak. This little creature is quite intriguing.

Amethyst Hairsteak (Jalmemus icilius) - female

Here are few distinct attributes informing you about it:

  • Habitat: This species is highly adaptable, found in varied habitats, from open woodland to urban backyards.
  • Appearance: Adults have a unique shine with dark brown, purple-tinged upper wings.
  • Size: They are small, with a wingspan of just 1 inch (2.5 cm).
  • Diet: Both larvae and adult butterflies suck sap from the Acacia tree, which offers a fulfilling nutrition.
  • Reproduction: Females lay round, pale eggs singly on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Quite rugged for a butterfly, they live up to 3 weeks despite various predators.
  • Host Plants: Their life revolves around certain Acacia species, which serve as the primary food and egg-laying sites.

With such unique attributes, the Amethyst Hairstreak is indeed a gem amongst South Australia’s butterfly species.

Fiery Jewel (Hypochrysops ignitus)

The Fiery Jewel is an exceptional species of butterfly.


  • Habitat: This flaming butterfly loves subtropical and temperate woodlands. Largely present in coastal regions of South Australia.
  • Appearance: Fiery Jewel is brilliantly coloured. Its wings are vibrant blue with an outer ring of fiery red, making it one of the most attractive butterflies.
  • Size: The size of adults ranges from 2 to 2.5 cm (0.78 to 0.98).
  • Diet: Its diet primarily consists of nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Lays its eggs on the underside of leaves, typically on Erythrina species.
  • Lifespan: It has a typical lifespan of 6 months, assuming it’s not preyed upon.
  • Host Plants: It primarily uses corkwood trees as host plants for their larvae.

Two-spotted Line-blue (Nacaduba biocellata)

The Two-spotted Line-blue is a fascinating species, especially when you dig a little deeper into their traits and habits.

Two-spotted Line-blue butterfly

Here are some key attributes to make your acquaintance with this butterfly more immersive:

  • Habitat: Mainly inhabits forests, woodlands, and suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: Characterized by its pale blue color and distinctive spots on the underside of its wings.
  • Size: Fiery Jewels are known to be smaller butterflies, usually ranging between 1 to 1.5 inches (approx. 2.5 to 3.8 cm) in size.
  • Diet: Their diet primarily consists of flower nectar and occasionally damp soil for salts.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on various host plants, particularly on assorted flower buds.
  • Lifespan: Their life span is brief, generally lasting a couple of weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: They favour specific host plants belonging to the Fabaceae species.

This butterfly species is an unsung hero of South Australia’s ecological system, adding dashes of color to the region’s green vistas.

Dainty Swallowtail (Papilio anactus)

The Dainty Swallowtail is both captivating and unique. Relish the chance to observe this colourful species up close.

Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re typically located in open woodlands, suburban gardens and orchards. They particularly enjoy citrus trees.
  • Appearance: Boasting a distinct black and white pattern on their wings with red and blue eyespots, these butterflies are a sight to behold.
  • Size: These remarkable beauties have a wingspan of 6-7 cm, or around 2.5-3 inches.
  • Diet: This lovely species feeds predominantly on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the upper side of young leaves.
  • Lifespan: Like many butterfly species, the total lifespan from egg to adult is about a month.
  • Host Plants: They have a strong preference for citrus trees, but will also feed on members of the Rutaceae family.

To the delight of butterfly lovers everywhere, these dainty creatures glide gracefully around gardens, full of zest and vibrancy. A delight, wouldn’t you agree?

Silver Xenica (Oreixenica lathoniella)

The Silver Xenica is a butterfly species endemic to South Australia that’s known for its distinctive markings.

Silver xenica Oreixenica lathoniella

  • Habitat: This species is typically found in high-altitude areas, essentially in the alpine and sub-alpine regions.
  • Appearance: The Silver Xenica has predominantly brown wings with intricate patterns. The underwings display a unique silver white patch, giving them their name.
  • Size: An adult Silver Xenica generally sports a wingspan around 1-1.5 inches (25-45mm).
  • Diet: In its larval stage, the Silver Xenica feeds on various grasses, while the adults often hover around flowers, sipping on nectar.
  • Reproduction: Like many butterflies, the Silver Xenica breeds with females laying her eggs on suitable host plants.
  • Lifespan: The life span of the Silver Xenica is typically around a month, however, exact duration may depend on conditions.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on various Poaceae species such as Poa sieberiana and Poa hiemata.

Australian Rustic (Cupha prosope)

Come discover the Australian Rustic, scientifically called Cupha prosope.

Australian Rustic butterfly

  • Habitat: Diverse environments across South Australia, from rainforests to suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: Features a chocolate brown hue with striking circular patterns on their wings appearing as eyes.
  • Size: Generally, their wingspan ranges around 2 inches (5cms). So, it’s quite a moderate-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults have an abundance of preferences, finely sipping nectar mostly from Lantana flowers.
  • Reproduction: Mating season is during warm months. Each female lays single eggs on leaves.
  • Lifespan: A short but energetic life of about a month.
  • Host Plants: Larvae predominantly consume the leaves of Bleeding Heart and Corky Passionfruit.

Remember, despite their name, Australian Rustics are not so rustic in nature. They catch your eye with their striking features.

The punctuated eye-patterns on their wings exude an aura of mystery and intrigue. Residing mostly in your nearby garden, they truly are a sight to behold.

Spotted Jezebel (Delias aganippe)

The Spotted Jezebel is an elegant species of butterfly you will find in South Australia. They are never one to shy away from spectators, and their vibrant colors are quite delightful in the wild.

Delias aganippe

  • Habitat: They are often found in rainforests, coastal scrubs, and eucalyptus woodlands.
  • Appearance: Its wings showcase unique patterns in black and white on the upper side, with red spots on under wings.
  • Size: Generally, the wingspan ranges from 5cm to 7.5cm, equating roughly to 2-3 inches.
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feed extensively on mistletoe plan, which helps them store toxins and fend off predators.
  • Reproduction: They breed in the warmer months and the females lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Their lifecycle from egg to butterfly usually lasts around a month.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are a variety of mistletoe species.

Get to know the Spotted Jezebel on your next trip. Not only are they captivating but they also play a significant role in South Australia’s ecosystem.

Imperial Hairstreak (Jalmenus evagoras)

The Imperial Hairstreak, scientifically known as Jalmenus evagoras, is a striking butterfly found in South Australia.

Imperial Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer woodland and forest environments, particularly where wattles grow. It’s important to preserve these environments for their survival.
  • Appearance: They exhibit a eye-catching blue and black color on their upper wing surface while the underside is patterned with white and orange.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 inches (30 to 40mm), they’re considered a medium-sized butterfly species.
  • Diet: As larvae, they feed on various species of wattle plant. Adult butterflies are drinkers! They love to sip at damp patches of sand or soil.
  • Reproduction: Interestingly, their life cycle includes five stages- egg, larva, pupa, imago, and adult. A full cycle takes around 7 to 8 weeks.
  • Lifespan: Just like other butterfly species, their lifespan is short, living only about 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They exclusively lay their eggs on wattle plants, with Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) being a favorite.

This exquisite butterfly species elevates the natural charm of South Australia. Remember, conservation is key!

Sword-grass Brown (Tisiphone abeona)

The Sword-grass Brown, or Tisiphone abeona, is an intriguing butterfly species you might come across in South Australia.

Varied Sword-grass Brown (Tisiphone abeona)

Possessing a unique aesthetic and lifecycle, it adds wonder to the region’s rich biodiversity.

  • Habitat: This species prefers coastal bushland and heath areas, making their home around the Sword-grass plant.
  • Appearance: They are typically brown with faint patterns on the upper side of their wings, which are outlined in white.
  • Size: Sword-grass Brown butterflies reach about 2.2 to 2.4 inches (56 to 60 mms) in wingspan.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars thrive on Sword-grass leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the Sword-grass plant. The emerging caterpillars stay on this host plant for their growth.
  • Lifespan: They have a lifespan of about four weeks.
  • Host Plants: The main host plant is the Sword-grass (Gahnia clarkei), which gives the butterfly its name.

Fringed Heath-blue (Neolucia agricola)

The Fringed Heath-blue, scientifically known as Neolucia agricola, is a uniquely interesting butterfly species. In this brief overview, you’ll get to know this creature a bit more intimately.

Fringed Heath-blue (Neolucia agricola)

  • Habitat: This butterfly thrives in heathland or woodland, often near eucalyptus trees.
  • Appearance: Its blue iridescent wings with delicate white fringes earn it its name.
  • Size: Small yet noticeable, it spans approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) when its wings are fully outspread.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies enjoy feeding from flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on new growth of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The Fringed Heath-blue has a short life of a couple of weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae feed specifically on a variety of Australian native plants, particularly the Bower Spinach (Tetragonia implexicoma).

Through observing species like the Fringed Heath-blue, we can deepen our understanding and admiration of South Australia’s rich biodiversity.


In closing, South Australia’s butterfly species are a remarkable testament to the diversity of life in the region.

As you navigate the countryside, keep an eye out for these stunning creatures.

We’d love to hear about your encounters, so feel free to leave a comment.

Butterflies   Updated: July 4, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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