Common Eggfly Butterfly - Hypolimnas bolina


This page contains information and pictures about Common Eggfly Butterflies in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Varied Eggfly Butterflies. They are called Blue Moon Butterflies in New Zealand.

Male, wingspan 80mm
We took the above picture when the male Common Eggfly Butterfly defending its territory on a tree. Although the wings of this butterfly were damaged quite heavily, it still able to fly very well.
The egg-shaped patches on males wings give the butterfly its names. Common Eggfly Butterfly male shows very strong territory habit. Whenever any butterfly fly into its territory, it chases away them aggressively. Then it always returns back to the same spot. It may stay at the same spots for many days. 
Common Eggfly butterflies are common in Brisbane. In summer, they are found along the foot-path or forest edge in bushes. The butterfly flies steadily but settles frequently. Males usually rest on the same spot two meters above ground, protecting his territory.
The caterpillars are black in colour with orange-yellow branch-spines. They feed on Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variabile and several other different plants. Caterpillars feed at night.
Male and female Common Eggfly Butterflies looked quite different. 


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The male and female Common Eggfly Butterflies are markedly different. The pictures show the male Common Eggfly Butterfly, black in colour with white spot surrounded with blue colour on each wing. 
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The pictures shows the top and side view of female Common Eggfly. Female and male are about the same size, or female sometimes a little bit larger. The upper-size look markedly different. There are white and orange patterns on the top side of her wings.
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Both female and male open their wings when rest. The blue colour of the male wings will vary in different viewing angle. After sunset, the butterflies hide under leaves for the night.
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Territorial Habits of Common Eggfly

Male butterflies are believed to look for their mate by eye-sight. Some species, such as the Australian Crow and Orchard Swallowtail, patrol the field in search of females. Some species, e.g. the Glasswing Butterfly and Dingy Swallowtail, are gathering around hill tops.  Some other species, such as this Common Eggfly that we are discussing here, males wait in good positions, such as the opening and clearings,  where the females will pass by. 
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In Wishart Outlook along the Bulimba Creek, there is a foot path good for jogging. There are gum trees, wattles and thick tall grasses on both sides of the path. From mid to late summer, we can always see many male Common Eggfly Butterflies along the path. Each male butterfly has his own territorial about thirty to forty meters apart. They usually rest on a leaf about one to two meters above ground. Any flying object come near by, the male butterfly will fly to it and check. If it is another Common Eggfly male, there will be a combat between them. They will chase each other and sometimes with body contact. The combat may last for a few minutes. Then one of the males will come back, usually the original territorial owner, sits back to where it rests before. 
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Because of the their combat, broken wings in males are common.
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On a hot summer afternoon, I walked along the footpath and stopped to watch a Common Eggfly Butterfly. I saw the male Common Eggfly resting on a tree, chasing for other flying objects as it usually did. Watching it for about five minutes, the butterfly disappeared. Carefully looking for it, from my shadow I found that the butterfly was resting on the top of my hat. It might think that my hat, where I was standing at the middle of the path, was a better place to guard his territorial. Chasing away other  males a few times and he always came back to my hat. The above pictures was taken by putting my hat on a tripod. 

Host Plants

The larval food plant is Pastel Flower ( Pseuderanthemum variable ), which is a perennial herb with white-pink flowers, dark green leaves purple underside. The leaves are from narrow to oval shapes. This plant can be found in moist shaded areas of eucalypt forest. The Leafwing caterpillars also feed on this plant. 
Pastel Flower, Love Flower
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Pseuderanthemum variabile, family Acanthaceae

1. Butterflies of Australia and New Guinea - Barrett, Charles and A. N. Burns, Melbourne, N. H. Seward, 1951, p118.
2. Hypolimnas bolina - Australian Caterpillars, Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2005. 
3. The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia - Michael F Braby, Australian National University, CSIRO 2004, p182.
4. Create More Butterflies -  by Frank Jordan and Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, 2005, p45. 

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Last updated: February 15, 2011.