Alice Springs Fauna •

Alice Springs ButterfliesBlue Moon Butterfly Caper White Butterfly, Egg and Instar Glasswing (Acraea andromacha) Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia) Meadow Argus (Junonia villida calybe) Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) Two-spotted Line-blue Butterfly (Nacaduba biocellata)

The Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia, formerly classified as D. chrysippus petilia) is a migratory species found across Australia and in tropical countries1, 2.

Lesser wanderer (Danaus petilia), Alice Springs NT
Lesser wanderer (Danaus petilia), Alice Springs NT

A common butterfly with nomadic populations, particularly across the arid region of central Australia where many native host plants die of during dry periods, and in south eastern Australia where it is too cold for them in winter.

The Lesser Wanderer are found in a variety of habitats including open country and agricultural grazing farmland areas. They are known for generally having a slow flight pattern and flying close to the ground.

Lesser wanderer (Danaus petilia), Alice Springs NT
Lesser wanderer (Danaus petilia), Alice Springs NT

Butterflies prefer an open country or farmland habitat. Flight is generally slow and close to the ground.

The caterpillars feed on native and introduced cotton bush (genus Gomphocarpus), species, as well know to feed on Asclepias, Brachystelma, Calotropis, Cynanchum, Marsdenia, Rhyncharrhena, Sarcostemma species.

The Lesser Wanderer pictured here was photographed on buffel grass in Alice Springs in the, Northern Territory.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Subclass: Pterygota
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Superfamily: Papilionoidea
  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: Danainae
  • Tribe: Danaini
  • Subtribe: Danaina
  • Genus: Danaus
  • Species: Danaus petilia

Footnote & References

  1. Lesser Wanderer, Danaus petilia (Stoll, 1790), Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/a5ea37bf-956a-430a-b719-3985da2b7ba9
  2. Danaus petilia, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danaus_petilia
  3. Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/333775-Danaus-petilia
  4. Lesser Wanderer – Danaus petilia (was D. chrysippus petilia), Brisbane Insects and Spiders, https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_nymphs/LesserWanderer.htm
  5. Danaus petilia (Stoll, 1790), Australian Lesser Wanderer, Butterfly House, http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/nymp/petilia.html

Alice Springs ButterfliesBlue Moon Butterfly Caper White Butterfly, Egg and Instar Glasswing (Acraea andromacha) Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia) Meadow Argus (Junonia villida calybe) Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) Two-spotted Line-blue Butterfly (Nacaduba biocellata)

Alice Springs Butterflies & Moths (Lepidopterans)Butterflies Moths

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