Ok well this week there won't be anymore Macgyver talk though I will try and work Quantum Leap into the blog over the next year as my sister would love it . This week I am talking about two very different butterflies . One is the Common Eggfly that are more plentiful in the northern half of Australia. The other is the Spotted Jezebel that prefers the southern half of Australia yet is found further north as well.
My first contact with the Common Eggfly occured when I visited The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda , Queensland . It struck me as a very brave butterfly that would rest on you in order to get a better view of its surrounds. They seem to act like teenagers at a school formal with the females staying in the middle of a open area , whilst the males hang out closer to the trees. One of the best things about attracting this butterfly is that you are spoiled for choice when it comes to plants. I have planted hemigraphis spp. initially in cairns but the caterpillars will also eat the Love flower , Lesser joyweed and Cinderella weed. They are most active at around lunchtime when the sun is highest in the sky. I plan to plant a lot of the Love flower at Butterfly Heights and I will let you know how I go in attracting it.
The Common Eggfly is very common in two parts of Australia, although can be found in other areas . The first band extends from Northern NSW along the coast all the way to Cape York. There is a second band that encompasses Kununurra, Darwin , Boroloola and surrounding areas. Additionaly this butterfly is found as far away as Tasmania and eastern South Australia.
The Spotted Jezebel is on of the most striking butterflies that you will see. It's like it has a home and away jersey as the top of the wings are black and white with really interesting shapes . The underside of the wings however have a red and yellow colouration thrown into the mix which looks fantastic. So depending on how it rests will dictate what you see. This butterfly is common in the south of Australia on both the east and west coast . It is also known as Red Spotted Jezebel and Wood White.
One of the great things about attracting the Spotted Jezebel is the type of plants that are required . The caterpillars are very happy eating mistletoe or sandalwood . Both are semi-parasitic. I will be blogging in later months about mistletoe as it's a very important part of butterfly gardening, and slightly misunderstood. I told one colleague that I was planning on looking for mistletoe later this month and his answer was , "What , for christmas ?" Sandalwood however has been farmed in Australia for years .If you decide to grow it there is a lot of information out there to assist you . Santalum acuminatum is a variety of sandalwood also known as the Quandong / Native peach. It has very interesting looking cherry looking fruit (pictured below) and a nut that looks like a little human brain . As this plant is semi parasitic it is best grown next to a native tree. The Quandong will get some of its nitrogen and water from the other tree throughout its life. The quandong is an established plant in arid conditions and will suit you if water is scarce in your area. I will be growing a tropical sandalwood in Cairns later this year as the Scarlet Jezebel uses that as a food plant .
Today I have covered 2 very different butterflies that between them are found in most parts of Australia. There are just over 400 species of butterflies in Australia as opposed to over 8000 in South America. That is reason in itself to keep planting butterfly plants in order to look after the ones we have. Thanks for reading this weeks blog. Happy butterfly gardening .