Lesser Wanderer Leah Smith

Lesser Wanderer

Danaus chrysippus

Predominantly pale tawny-orange with a heavy black border that encloses large white spots in the forewing. The inner leading edge of the forewing is deep red-brown. The underside is similar to the upper side but paler with narrower black margins. Males have a distinct patch of dark grey sex-scales on the upper side of the hindwing.

The caterpillars have three pairs of tentacles and yellow, white and black rings.


7 - 8 cm wingspan.



Larval food plants include native milkweeds (Cynanchum and Marsdenia species) as well as introduced milkweeds such as swan plant (Gomphocarpus fruiticose) and red cotton bush (G. curassavica).


It usually flies slowly from 1 to 2 m above the ground.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • Presence (to establish the first and last sighting for the season)

  • Courting/Mating

  • Egg laying

  • Chrysalis (butterfly emerging from its shell)

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

Spring and summer, in semi-arid parts of Australia. It may be seen at other times of the year after heavy rain.

Where To Look

  • Primarily in the tropics and arid interior (Sometimes its range expands to the temperate South coast)
  • Periods of larger than normal rainfall in the Pilbara have lead to abundant populations being sighted in the mid-west of Australia
  • Adult butterflies are well known migrants and may be encountered anywhere
  • They readily visit flowering shrubs in suburban gardens
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

They look similar to the Wanderer Butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus), with orange coloured wings and dark edges, but they also have a larger white pattern on their forewings.