A few from the A.C.T. and the Snowies


Old Timer
Sep 17, 2009
Hello all,

Last weekend, I headed south to Canberra to visit my son. He had to work until about 2pm so I spent the morning on Mt. Ainslie, a small hill on the edge of town. This was a great place for butterflies. There were many species at the hilltop and a "swarm" of 20-30 butterflies constantly chased each other over the forest canopy. Red-spotted Jezebels (Delias aganippe) were the most common butterfly in the swarm but there were also a few Imperial Jezebels (D. harpalyce), one Scarlet Jezebel (D. argenthona), many Glasswings (Acraea andromacha), one Blue Triangle (Graphium sarpedon), a few Dainty Swallowtails (Papilio anactus) and a single lovely Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius).

I also found a number of butterflies that visited the flowers of an ornamental bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.). Some of the canopy swarm would occasionally drop to the flowers and feed for a few seconds before heading back up to continue with the chase. Browns of several species were numerous in the grassy forest floor. Some of these and various species of lycaenids would also visit the flowers.

Here is a shot of Mt. Ainslie in the late afternoon:

Here are a couple of shots of the habitat at the summit of Mt. Ainslie. The forest here is mostly composed of several species of Eucalyptus and wattles (Acacia sp.).

... and views of Canberra from the lookout at the summit of Mt. Ainslie early in the morning:

A shot of the political centre of Australia:

The trees at the summit were not big. This is the area where a large mixed-species swarm of butterflies raced back and forth once the day was warm. They usually remained above the canopy but sometimes would drop lower and fly along the road.

I tried to take a photo of the flock but they were always too fast for me. I did manage this shot of a Red-spotted Jezebel that was in pursuit of a Blue Triangle. When I first saw Red-spotted Jezebels last year in the desert near Bourke, I thought that they were a slow flying species. Here on the summit, however, they were speedsters and they chased each other as well as other species of butterflies that joined in the swarm. I saw several more species of butterflies in the swarm on this second visit. New additions included a Macleay's Swallowtail, a Chequered Swallowtail, and surprisingly, a few Common Browns and Marbled Xenicas. The latter two normally flit around the forest floor so it seemed odd to see them flying high above the canopy with the other butterflies.

Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius) -- our one and only Polyura. There were two of these at the summit. They would chase the other butterflies for awhile and then settle on leaves 3m or so up in the trees.

Red-spotted Jezebels (Delias aganippe) were the dominant species in the mixed-species flock. They were colourful butterflies but unfortunately uncooperative for photos. I usually saw them in flight although this one was warming itself early in the morning near the top of a Eucalyptus.

Imperial Hairstreak (Jalmenus evagoras). There were several of these at the flowers of the Callistemon.

Glasswings (Acraea andromacha) were abundant:

Imperial Jezebel (Delias harpalyce). Unfortunately, the other jezebels only stopped briefly at the flowers and I was not able to take any photos of these at all.

... when the day became warm, they left the mixed-species flock and settled high up in the canopy.

A fresh-looking Bronze Flat (Netrocoryne repanda):

Varied Dusky-Blue (Candalides hyacinthina)

Saltbush Blue (Theclinesthes serpentata).

One of my favourites was the Chequered Copper (Lucia limbaria)

Dainty Swallowtail (Papilio anactus):

This is what I think to be a Wide-brand Grass-Dart (Suniana sunias)

Two-spotted Line-Blue (Nacaduba biocellata):

Amethyst Hairstreaks (Jalmenus icilius), a wattle specialist.

Shouldered Brown (Heteronympha penelope):

Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)

Meadow Argus (Junonia villida):

"Gippsland" form of the Eastern Water Dragon:

... adult male:

... females or imm males:

Once my son was finished with his work, we headed south to the Snowy Mountains. We camped along a river between the ski towns of Jindabyne and Threadbo. The elevation here was about 1200m. Saturday afternoon was sunny but a change unfortunately arrived overnight. Temps remained warm but the skies were grey with frequent rain on Sunday.

This are had been burned by a bush fire a number of years ago. Trees were regenerating but the hillsides were covered with the skeletons of trees that were killed by the fire.

Grassy areas like these were full of Shouldered Browns (Heteronympha penelope) and Marbled Xenicas (Geitoneura klugii)

Walking track that we followed near our campground.

A new butterfly to me was the Silver Xenica (Oreixenica lathoniella). These are small but nicely marked members of Satyrinae.

Shouldered Browns (Heteronympha penelope) were abundant.

... typical view of one perched on a stem of grass. It was hard to find one that was not obscured by vegetation when resting.

... under surface:

Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii) were abundant along the trail.

Bark of a Snow Gum:

Here is another one that I cannot identify for certain. I could not get a good shot of the outer underwings but these were spotted with large patches of white. To me, it looks much like a Mottled Grass-Skipper (Anisynta cynone), a species with a fragmented distribution that is known from northern NSW but not from the ACT. I suppose that it must be something else but I am not certain of its identification.

This beetle looked amazing with its huge antennae.

Gang-Gang Cockatoo, male:


Here is a lovely but unresponsive Highland Copperhead (Austrelaps ramsayi) that I found basking along a trail in the afternoon.

... watching me before racing into cover:

One of the very common Tussock Skink (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxi):

... that is it for this trip. It was great to have a night in the hills with my son. We did not get for the big bushwalk on Sunday due to the weather but we still had a good time exploring the area.


Old Timer
Jul 9, 2006
Gosh I love this area of the boards! Great pictures, I love seeing areas of the world I haven't been to, as well as the local flora and fauna!

Thanks for posting!!


Old Timer
Sep 17, 2009
Thanks very much, all.

There is a good field guide available at the moment. It is "The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia" by Michael Braby. The plates are well done and the format makes it easy to use.