family of butterflies are usually referred to collectively as the
browns, although some species may be commonly known as 'wanders,
crows, nymphs or glasswings'. Most of these butterflies have a combination
of browns on their wings, sometimes with concentric spots. One of
the best identification features of this family is the underdeveloped,
short, hairy forelegs and the long hind legs.
caterpillars of the Nymphalids are often spiny having long, paired filaments
that look like anemone tentacles on some of their body segments. They
are usually patterned with concentric stripes.
species in this family are medium sized, sun-loving butterflies and are
recognised by their rapid, direct flight and the tendency to settle on
the ground with their brightly coloured wings outstretched. The adults
feed mostly at flowers, although they have been observed feeding on fermenting
sap flows, fruit juices and fresh animal dung. Some species show migratory
is one of the best known species of butterflies and belongs to a group
commonly known as 'painted ladies'. Painted ladies are found throughout
the world and most have a strong migratory nature. The Australian painted
lady is found throughout the year in most areas except during June and
July in the colder areas. In spring and early summer in eastern Australia
large numbers can be seen as the butterflies take wing and set off in
a south, south-westerly direction.
are recognisable by their colouring and can often be observed feeding
on many types of flowering plants. Adults have a wingspan of about 53
millimetres across and are brown and orange in colour with 4 small blue
eyespots in the orange section of the hind wings. The forewings are usually
black with orange markings on the bottom half and white spots near the
caterpillars which are usually hairy and brown or black in colour,
and are found to feed most commonly on native everlasting daisies
and introduced capeweed. The pupae are mostly brown in colour but
sometimes have metallic silver or gold spots.
species is commonly known as the 'meadow argus' and in flight can be mistaken
for the Australian painted lady. However it is easily distinguished from
the latter by the 2 prominent eyespots that occur on the upper side of
each wing. These eyespots are usually ringed with orange, which may be
joining them together. The overall colour of the wings is brown and along
with the eyespots the forewings have 2 orange bars with dark brown edges,
separated by a dull blue band. It has a wingspan of about 45 millimetres.
larvae are most commonly black and are covered with short, thick black
spines. They feed on a wide range of native daisies and other herbaceous
plants, both native and introduced.
pupae are variable in colour but are more commonly brown or dull black
with white to yellow patches and can often be found suspended from the
food plant or nearby walls and fences.
sometimes migrate but are most commonly seen flying rapidly close to the
ground in a series of one to two quick wing beats followed by a short
glide. They will often land frequently on the ground in a cleared area
or open spot.
more admirals, browns or fritillaries visit the Australian
- Nymphalidae section found here.