Butterfly of the Month - August 2022
The Black Jezebel (Delias nigrina) can be seen all year around and is known as one of our winter butterflies. Males and females have a wingspan of 56mm. At first glance, the adult resembles our March 2022 Butterfly of the Month, the Jezebel Nymph (Mynes geoffroyi) because the wing colour patterns are superficially similar. Yet there are significant differences in the way their wings are shaped. Please feel free to read up on our March butterfly.
Eggs are about 1.5mm high and, as the image shows, have raised longitudinal ribs running the length of the egg shell. They are laid in clusters on the host plants’ leaves. Those clusters can be substantial in size. The emerging larvae may be olive green as depicted here or dark brown. They carry rows of tiny light yellow spots from which fine hair arise. While the larvae feed gregariously, they quite often seek out solitude when pupating which takes place singly and may be on or near the larval host. The pupa (chrysalis) is quite striking with its yellow to light-orange colour and its black spines.
The male butterfly is known for its hilltopping behaviour, seeking out elevated areas which he ‘patrols’ and where he mates with a female entering the area. The female then leaves the area and seeks out a host plant to lay her eggs on.
Larvae are specialized eaters sustaining themselves entirely by feeding on mistletoes such as Amyema, Benthamina, Dendrophthoe, Lysiana, and Muellerina spp , all found on a variety of native plants like Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Acacia spp , but also on others. It appears that the Black Jezebel female prefers to lay her eggs on mistletoes growing in more open positions on the tree they parasitise.
Keep your eyes on our native mistletoes often growing high up in the trees. You are bound to come across our beautiful Jezebel butterflies, among them the stunning Black Jezebel.
BM - Robert (Bob) Miller; CM - Cliff Meyer; GW - Geoff Walker PC - Peter Chew