- Colour: Predominant colour is tawny orange. Upper side is orange, bordered and patterned with brown-black markings. Underside of the forewing is similar to the upper side. The underside of the hind wing is yellowish brown with darker markings and blotches. Males have an elongated brown sex band on upperside of forewing.
- Size: Wingspan is about 3.4 cm
- Diet: Grasses including introduced veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina)
- Movement: Adults have a low, slow, jerky flight among grasses. In the early morning they will bask in the sunshine with their wings open.
- Breeding: The slender green larvae blend in well on glass blades and the small compact pupa is usually attached to a grass stem.
What to Observe
- Presence (to establish the first and last sighting for the season)
- Egg laying
- Chrysalis (butterfly emerging from its shell)
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
- We expect butterflies to appear earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth.
- They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.
- Climate change is creating an increasing dry climate in southern Australia. This drier climate will affect the abundance, vigour and health of the plants on which butterflies breed.
When To Look
- Near Perth look from mid September to early November.
- Further south they appear later.
- Males appear one-two weeks before females.
Where To Look
- Common in suitable habitats between Shark Bay and Albany
- Inland they can be found in low-lying moist grassy areas and Acacia woodlands
- Look in woodlands with native or introduced grasses.
The map below displays the accumulated observations of these species as reported by ClimateWatch observers, together with the layer showing how the range of the species might change between now and 2085, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, and green areas where the species range might expand.
Williams A, Powell R, Williams M, Walker G (2009). Common Butterflies of the South-West. DEC, Kensington. Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia, Bush Books
Williams AAE, Williams MR, Atkins AF (2008). Notes on the life history of the western xenica Geitoneura minyas (Waterhouse & Lyell) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). Australian Entomologist 35, pp. 153–158
The marbled xenica (Geitoneura klugii) looks similar but typically has a 4cm wingspan and first appears from late October. The Western xenica is also paler than the marbled xenica.
Did You Know?
The Western Xenica is one of WA’s best-known butterflies.