A Female Spotted Jezebel Butterfly

Spotted Jezebel (Delias aganippe)

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.

A Female Spotted Jezebel Butterfly
The temperature on the day I took this photograph was over 40 degrees Celsius. The butterfly was alive, but clearly trying to preserve energy. From trial and error, I knew that trying to pick it up would just make it use energy by trying to escape so I left it where it was – another example of nature taking its course. The stillness of the butterfly gave me a good chance to get close and see the detail on the wings. Such beautiful subtle colours coming through from the bright spots beneath the wings.!
Underside of Spotted Jezebel Wings
I’ve noticed that many butterflies had duller markings on the underside of their wings, to provide camouflage. So I’m not sure why the underside of the Spotted Jezebel wings are so brightly coloured. No chance of being camouflaged with these yellow, black, white and red patterns.


3 thoughts on “Spotted Jezebel (Delias aganippe)

  1. Gorgeous butterfly, I’ve never seen one before. I would think if they rest with their wings open they’d be better camouflaged. The ones I’ve seen lately rest with their wings up and look just like a dried leaf, very hard to spot tn.

    1. I agree with what you say, but I’m not sure what they do under normal circumstances. The one I photographed was overheated. I guess the colours could be a warning to predators – bright colours usually are. The field guide didn’t mention anything about this aspect. Curious! Lisa

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