Butterflies of New
and the islands of the South Pacific
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - DANAINAE
Tribe - TELLERVINI
Yapen Island, West Irian
The Tellervini was
originally thought to comprise of a single Australasian species
Tellervo zoilus, of which 9 subspecies
were recognised. Recent phylogenetic research however has led to all
of these being elevated to full species status. The butterflies are
allied to the Danaini and Ithomiini, but differ morphologically from
both in several respects. They are found variously in Queensland,
West Irian, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
The butterflies are
easily recognised by their conspicuous black and white markings,
long straight antennae and large orange or yellow eyes.
is endemic to West Irian, where it is found on the mainland and on
the islands of Seram, Amboina and Yapen.
This species inhabits rainforest at elevations between sea level and
I do not have any data regarding assarica.
The following applies to the Australian species
The eggs are white and are laid singly on leaves of the foodplant. The
larva is dark grey with four thin white broken transverse bands on
each segment. It has a pair of raised yellow spots on the anal
segment, and a pair of yellow-based black thorn-like filaments
projecting from the thorax. The larval foodplant is
Parsonia, a noxious woody vine in the
family Apocynaceae. It is assumed that the larvae sequester toxins
from these plants and that the larvae, pupae and adult butterflies are
unpalatable to birds and other small vertebrates.
The larvae exhibit territorial behaviour, marking each leaf with a
regurgitated fluid before beginning to feed. This fluid is probably a
deterrent to ants and other predatory insects. If molested the larva
wriggles violently from side to side, thrusting at the intruder with
its thorn-like thoracic filaments.
The pupa is pale shiny green with black spots. It is suspended by the
cremaster from the underside of a leaf.
Both sexes nectar at Lantana and various herbaceous flowering plants.
Males sit on leaves slowly fanning their wings to release pheromones
and attract females. the butterflies commonly rest under leaves.