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 Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) belongs to the Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterfly) family. A small butterfly, approximately 53-64 mm, it is common in grassland land and scrub habitats.

The following selection of photographs were taken in Alice Springs at the local Sewerage Ponds (a popular birding spot) in the Northern Territory.

Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer

It is a recent arrival to Australia (Sanderson et al. 2012; Braby et al. 2014; Ham 2020) and since has spread through much of tropical northern and eastern Australia, including semi-arid zones of Queensland (Ham 2020).

Notes on the Tawny Coster Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae) from northern Queensland, author David A. Lane
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer

The wings of the adult butterflies are bright orange, with black spots, the hindwings have a black border with white spots. The males are more deeply coloured than the females. The undersides of the butterfly are similar to the upper surfaces. It has a slow fluttery flight pattern, and is avoided by most insect predators, being protected by a nauseous yellowish fluid is exudes from glands in the joints of the legs. When attacked it will play dead, and its tough exoskeleton, allows it to survive a couple of pecks from birds.

Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer

The thorax is black with white spots and have only four developed legs.

Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Informal: Pterygotes
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Unranked: Ditrysia
  • Superfamily: Papilionoidea
  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: Heliconiinae
  • Tribe: Acraeini
  • Genus: Acraea
  • Species: Acraea terpsicore
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer
Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds NT © Dorothy Latimer

Footnote & References

  1. Many thanks for the ID Cliff Meyer, member of Butterflies, Moths and other Invertebrates of Australia, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/170745013686340/
  2. Notes on the Tawny Coster Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae) from northern Queensland, author David A. Lane, https://boic.org.au/brisbane/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Acraea-terpsicore-notes-of-the-species-from-northern-Queensland-David-A-Lane.pdf
  3. Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758), Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/b8559afe-abc4-4787-bff7-c850811110ea
  4. Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/180386-Acraea-terpsicore
  5. Acraea terpsicore, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acraea_terpsicore
  6. Acraea terpsicore (Linnaeus, 1758), Tawny Coster, Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/nymp/terpsicore.html
  7. Tawny coster, JungleDragon, https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/3109/tawny_coster.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)

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