The Lurcher (Yoma sabina, Nymphalidae) is a large, beautiful butterfly which we hardly know in Townsville. There have been one or two reports of stray individuals over the years but the accepted range was always to our north – basically the tropical coast from about Cairns to Cape York. Braby notes, however, in the second edition (2016) of the Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia that its “range has recently expanded southwards to Townsville.”
The bold orange and brown markings of its upper side are quite distinctive. The only species it might be confused with, even at a distance, are the Rustic (not so dark near the body) and the Leafwing (below).
The underside is a different story. Like so many other butterflies, the Lurcher pretends to be a dead leaf. Braby speculates that the underside coloration may vary seasonally. That wouldn’t be too surprising, since the the Evening Brown, Melanitis leda, does just that. (This link will take you to a set of photos showing seasonal variations.)
The background of this image bears some explanation. The butterfly was discovered indoors this morning, having presumably flown in through an open window yesterday in search of a safe place to rest and settling on some clothing. We carried it outside for this photo but when we tried to transfer it to a more natural background it awoke and flew up into the tangle of wisteria which you see in the top photo.
The Australian Leafwing, Doleschallia bisaltide, is just a little smaller, around 62 mm rather than 67. The species’ range extends right down the Queensland coast and into northern NSW but I rarely see them here in Townsville, perhaps because they prefer rainforest; I might average one sighting per year in my garden, as against weekly sightings of Crows and daily sightings of the Common Eggfly. The photos below, new to Green Path, show two different individuals seen in 2009.