Our Bushland Diary

Saturday, October 22, 2011

a time for butterflies

In my travels lately, I've seen a lot of butterflies about the place.  It's seems to be the perfect time of year for them - not so hot as to cause dehydration, warm enough to fly, and fairly good sources of leaves and nectar available. 

Butterflies in Western Australia are not as flashy as those of some other parts of Australia.  Look at the magnificently iridescent show-offs of the tropics, such as the Cairns Birdwing and Ulysses Swallowtail.  

Our local butterflies are smaller, often cryptic (i.e. camouflaged), and typically sparing with bright colours.  Here's an example; the Western Xenica (Geitoneura minyas). 

Western Xenica - adult female
The adults are light orange-brown with dark brown markings.  The little green larvae (caterpillars) feed on grasses, so the adults are often seen looking for mates or resting in shady patches of grass under Acacia or Eucalypts. 

Once, when I was birdwatching in the shade of some eucalypts, a cheeky butterfly landed on my notepad and I managed to take several photos.  I think he was attracted to the white surface of the paper, for some reason - he would fly away, then return to rest on my notepad.

Western Xenica - adult male
If you're interested in finding out more about butterflies, you might need a field guide such as Michael Braby's "The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia", and a digital camera with macro capabilities so you can take photos of the beautiful little creatures you see.  

The days of catching butterflies in a net and pinning them to boards has long gone, although this method is still used by entomologists to help in their biological studies.

No comments:

Post a Comment