The short days and cool weather of our winter don’t stop our butterflies completely but do slow them down. Numbers drop off, and their hours of activity shrink. As I noted years ago, most of them find quiet spots by about 3.30 each afternoon where they can rest safely until the temperature climbs again on the following morning. The one in my photo is doing just that, but I only spotted it because I saw it land.
Do butterflies really sleep?
As this site says, it “depends on your definition of sleep. If you want to define sleep as an inactive, low metabolic state: yes. This low metabolic state is often driven by the temperature in the air.” Butterflies are ectothermic (“cold-blooded”, except that they don’t really have blood) so they need external warmth for their activity.
An extension of their overnight “sleep” is the over-winter hibernation which carries adults of some species through a long period of low temperatures and limited food supplies, even here in the tropics.
Winter may here, as I said in my last post, but the butterflies haven’t yet felt its full force. There are still plenty of flowers for the adults and greenery for the caterpillars, even on Hervey’s Range in Townsville’s cooler, drier hinterland.
These photos were taken on three successive visits between mid-April and mid-May and for this post I have simply sorted them by size: the female Varied Eggfly has a wingspan of about 85 mm, while the blues are in the 20 – 30 mm range.
Clicking on the images to see them in a lightbox will reveal extended captions including their Latin names.
A recent trip to Paluma Dam with the good people of Wildlife Queensland was enjoyable for the wildlife and just being in the rainforest but was far from strenuous. We walked across the dam wall and along a vehicular track to the west of the dam, took a side track to down to the dam shore, and returned the same way Continue reading “Walking in the Paluma rainforest”
Ringlets (Hypocysta spp.) are smallish, brownish butterflies showing attractive flashes of orange in flight but camouflaged at rest unless they spread their wings to bask. Their wingspan is about 30mm, very much the same size as the common Grass-yellows (Eurema spp.) but noticeably smaller than Migrants, Crows and Tigers and larger than the Blues.
All six Australian species are found on the East coast and we have three of them in the Townsville region, the Orange, Northern and Brown Ringlets (H. adiante, H. irius and H. metirius) although the last of these is not common close to Townsville. In fact, we rarely see any of them except on the rocky grassy slopes of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart and the Many Peaks Range. Why not? Continue reading “Ringlets on grassy hillsides”