Marbled Xenica

Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura Klugii)

For months now, it has puzzled me why so many butterflies hover low to the ground above bark and leaf litter, and in thick grassy areas with no flowers in sight.  I’ve always associated butterflies with flowers.  Thanks to a wonderful book given to me by my sister for Christmas, I can now answer that question, and identify the butterflies too!   Published by Museum Victoria, the field guide “Butterflies: Identification and Life History by Ross V Field is highly detailed with photographs of both the male and female butterfly as well as the egg, the larva and the pupa.  This makes identification at each point in the life cycle possible.

The first butterfly I have identified using this field guide is the Marbled Xenica.  From the photographs, I think it is probably a female.  These butterflies fly low to the ground, with the female laying single eggs on specific native grasses in Summer. I saw many of them today, so my guess is that is what they were doing.  The eggs hatch in Autumn, with the larva feeding on the grass.  I also saw a few Common Brown butterflies today, and they lay eggs on leaf litter as well as grasses.  So that’s what butterflies are doing around grasses and leaf litter!

Marbled Xenica
The markings on the hind wing seem to be the key in identifying this as a female.

5 thoughts on “Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura Klugii)

  1. So glad I stumbled across your Blog. I have these butterflies doing the same thing in my garden but they seem to choose quite inhospitable landing places. I also noticed they often settle where there has been a light sprinkling of water so presume they enjoy a drink.

    1. I’m glad you stumbled across my blog too! Welcome aboard!

      The Common Brown butterflies look similar, and they lay eggs on bits of bark and fallen leaf litter. I was reading about it the other day. Apparently the larva hide under the bark during the day and then come out at night to feed. I will do a post on this soon. It’s an interesting observation you have about the water. There hasn’t been enough rain here for me to really think about it. If I see a note in the field guide I’ll include it in the next butterfly post. Lisa

  2. In the UK a lot of our butterflies feed not on flower nectar but on aphid honeydew. Aphids have too much sugar in their diets and they secrete the excess as a sugary solution that can take the place of nectar. So our purple hairstreaks spend most of their lives in the top of oak trees and you hardly ever see them at ground level and our speckled wood butterfly lives in woodland and is usually found basking in leaf litter with no flowers in sight. Nice blog, I love seeing other parts of the world.

    1. That’s interesting – I don’t know a lot about butterflies, but it seems they are quite diverse in their habits. I love the name ‘purple hairstreaks’ and as I didn’t know what they looked like, I took time to search for them on Google just now. They are beautiful with the combination of purple and black. I’ve also just realised that I didn’t follow-up with the Common Brown butterfly, so I’ll put that photo up later on in the week. Lisa

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