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.