Monday, 17 March 2008

Heteronympha merope

Common Brown or Western Brown:

Apparently not quite as common as they once were.

This female was playing hard to get, refusing to let me move close enough to take a photo of her fully open wings. She came into the garden to drink dew from the kikuyu (my enemy!)

H. merope uses Poa, Themeda triandra (Kangaroo grass) and Bursaria as well as couch and kikuyu as host food plants. All are represented in my garden.

Later instars are able to graze on kikuyu but apparently, it's toxic to 1st instars.

In Autumn, females deposit eggs on the leaf or at the base of the host provided it's lush. Otherwise, they lay on ground litter or on plants near the host. The caterpillars move to the host once new growth appears.

I had not seen this butterfly in my garden until Saturday morning.

Last June, I planted a number of species of native grasses, including Poa and Themeda triandra. I also planted several Bursaria spinosa as I wanted to attract a greater diversity of butterfly species to my garden. In this case, it's worked!

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