The four days of intense heat have played havoc with the butterfly population. We saw many around the perimeter of the house, seeking a cooler spot. Some of them perished in the process.
When I took the first of these two photographs, this Spotted Jezebel butterfly was alive. Unfortunately, we found it dead the next day. However this gave us the chance to see the beautifully coloured underside of the wings. From the markings, I can identify this particular butterfly as female. The male is plainer, with more grey shading on the wings, and fewer spots.
According to the field guide, Spotted Jezebel butterflies lay their eggs on mistletoe, especially the wire-leaf mistletoe. In Australia, mistletoe is not the plant associated with kisses at Christmas, but a parasitic plant that grows on native trees, taking nutrients from the host trees. It can kill its host and there are debates about whether it should be left alone or controlled. Mind you, being so high in the trees, it is difficult to remove. I’m not sure if the Spotted Jezebel helps to control the mistletoe or if it helps to spread it, but I would like to know.
When the caterpillar creates a pupa, it looks just like bird droppings. Apparently this does not prevent it from being attacked by wasps and other predatory insects.
Hopefully, the next Spotted Jezebel I see will be alive and flying around in the bush.