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Hypolimnas bolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Varied Eggfly
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Hypolimnas
H. bolina
Binomial name
Hypolimnas bolina

Eight, see text

  • Papilio bolina Linnaeus, 1758
  • Hypolimnas parva Aurivillius, 1920
  • Nymphalis jacintha Drury, [1773]

Hypolimnas bolina, the great eggfly,[1][2] common eggfly,[2] varied eggfly, or in New Zealand the blue moon butterfly,[3] is a species of nymphalid butterfly found from Madagascar to Asia[1] and Australia.[2]


Race bolina[edit]

H. bolina is a black-bodied butterfly with a wingspan of about 70–85 millimetres (2.8–3.3 in). The species has a high degree of sexual dimorphism. The female is mimetic with multiple morphs.[4]


Males are monomorphic.[5] The dorsal wing surface is jet black but features three prominent spots, two on the forewing and one on the hindwing. To a human observer these appear as white spots fringed with blue-violet. They actually consist of a white center overlain by bright ultraviolet iridescence, a colour generated by nanostructures on the wing scale surface.[6] Numerous smaller white spots fringe the fore- and hindwings.[7][8] The ventral surface lacks any ultraviolet iridescence and consists essentially of banded white markings set against a brownish background.


Females are hugely variable due to the presence of both genetic polymorphism[4] and phenotypic plasticity.[9] Polymorphism is expressed primarily on the dorsal surface, with morphs varying in the presence of white, orange, and blue markings.[4] One genetic morph, named euploeoides by Clarke & Sheppard (1975),[4] is thought to present a mimic of one or several members of the genus Euploea. The female ventral wing surfaces are similar to those of the male. Phenotypic plasticity is such that individuals are generally darker if they develop under cooler temperatures.



H. bolina is found in Madagascar in the west, through to South and Southeast Asia, Cambodia, the South Pacific islands (French Polynesia, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Fiji), and occurs in parts of Australia as far south as Victoria during summer and autumn, Japan, Taiwan, and New Zealand.[2] Appearances in New Zealand appear to be linked with favourable winds during April–June migratory periods in Australia, with the butterfly being recorded in 1956, 1971, and 1995.[10] No populations have established locally in New Zealand.[10]


H. bolina is a generally common butterfly across most tropical and sub-tropical habitat types, including wet/dry woodland (such as tropical savanna), rainforest, and shrubland. It is a common visitor to suburban back yards and other areas of human disturbance. In the Australian tropics, H. bolina is particularly common along tracks, streambeds, and the corridors formed between remnant gallery forest and cultivated sugar cane fields. Both sexes are invariably found in association with one or more larval hostplant species, especially disturbance species such as Synedrella nodiflora, Sida rhombifolia, and Commelina cyanea.


To the west the female is monomorphic, mimicking species of the oriental and Australasian danaid genus Euploea. Eastwards H. bolina is frequently polymorphic and most forms are then non-mimetic. In areas where it resembles Euploea the butterfly has usually been designated a Batesian mimic.

Life cycle and ecology[edit]

Males are notably territorial.[11][12][13] Individuals are known to return to defend the same location for up to 54 days, with site fidelity increasing with age.[14] Territories that enhance the visual detection of adult females are preferred.[15] Females are usually found gliding close to the ground in southern areas.

Unlike congenerics such as Hypolimnas anomala, female H. bolina most often lay one or two eggs at a time. These are typically laid on the leaf underside. Early season (post-diapause) females in the Australian wet-dry tropics target freshly-germinated seedlings of their favoured host in this region, Synedrella nodiflora.[16] Eggs hatch after 3 days under a constant incubation temperature of ca. 25 degrees C. Newly hatched larva first consume their egg shell before feeding on the leaf upon which they were laid. Later larval instars are highly mobile and readily disperse in search of new host foliage. Individuals rarely pupate on (or in the immediate vicinity of) their host plant.

Host plants[edit]

Race bolina breeds on Sida rhombifolia,[17] Elatostemma cuneatum, Portulaca oleracea, Laportea interrupta,[18] Triumfetta pentandra,[19] and Asystasia species.

Other hosts include Elatostema cuneatum, Fleurya interrupta, Pseuderanthemum variabile, Ipomoea batatas, Alternanthera denticulata, and Synedrella nodiflora. Caterpillars accept leaves of Pipiturus argenteus. They are also known to feed on Urtica dioica and Malva species. While in New Zealand, adult butterflies have been observed feeding on the nectar of Lantana, Grevillea, Hebe, Symphyotrichum novi-belgii, and Solanum muricatum plants.[10]


The eggs are a pale, glassy green with longitudinal ridges except on the top.


After about four days the eggs hatch. The caterpillars immediately disperse. They are black with an orange head. The last segment is also orange. The head bears a pair of long branched black horns. The body surface is also covered with long, branched, orangish black spines. These spines look whitish and transparent immediately after moulting, but soon become the usual orange. In later instars the spiracles are surrounded by thin, dirty orange rings. Infection by Wolbachia bacteria is known to exclusively kill male specimens.[3][20]


The pupa is suspended by just one point. It is brown with a grey tinge on the wings. The abdominal segments have distinct tubercles. The surface of the pupa is rough. The butterfly emerges after seven to eight days as pupae (female development is always a bit longer).

Recent evolutionary changes[edit]

On the Samoan Islands of Upolu and Savai'i, a parasite (probably Wolbachia) had been killing the male members of Hypolimnas bolina. The problem was so severe that by 2001, males made up only 1% of the population. However, in 2007, it was reported that within a span of just 10 generations (about 5 years), the males had evolved to develop immunity to the parasite, and the male population increased to nearly 40%.[21] This evolutionary event involved changes at a single genomic region on chromosome 25,[22][23] and represents one of the fastest examples of natural selection observed to date in natural populations. Ed Yong has written a popular science account of this highly unusual evolutionary event.[24]


Listed alphabetically:[2]

  • H. b. bolina (Linnaeus, 1758) – (Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, western Borneo, Sulawesi, Salayar, Kabaena, Galla, Banggai, Sula, Maluku, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Australia, New Caledonia)
  • H. b. constans (Butler, 1875) – (Tasmania?)
  • H. b. enganica Fruhstorfer, 1904 – (Engano Island)
  • H. b. gigas (Oberthür, 1879) – (Sangihe)
  • H. b. incommoda Butler, 1879
  • H. b. inconstans Butler, 1873 – (Navigator Islands)
  • H. b. jacintha (Drury, 1773)
  • H. b. jaluita Fruhstorfer, 1903
  • H. b. kezia (Butler) – (Formosa)
  • H. b. kraimoku (Eschscholtz, 1821) – (Lifu)
  • H. b. labuana Butler, 1879 – (Labuan)
  • H. b. lisianassa (Cramer, 1779) – (Moluccas)
  • H. b. listeri Butler, 1888 – (Christmas Island)
  • H. b. montrouzieri (Butler) – (Woodlark, Fergusson, Trobriand Islands)
  • H. b. naresii Butler, 1883 – (Fiji)
  • H. b. nerina (Fabricius, 1775) – (Timor - Kai, Aru, Waigeu, West Irian - Papua, northern Australia - eastern Victoria, Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, New Zealand)
  • H. b. pallescens (Butler) – (Fiji)
  • H. b. philippensis (Butler, 1874) – (Philippines)
  • H. b. pulchra (Butler) – (New Caledonia)
  • H. b. rarik Eschscholtz, 1821) – (Lifu)


  1. ^ a b R.K., Varshney; Smetacek, Peter (2015). A Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India. New Delhi: Butterfly Research Centre, Bhimtal & Indinov Publishing, New Delhi. p. 206. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3966.2164. ISBN 978-81-929826-4-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hypolimnas Hübner, [1819]" at Markku Savela's Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Archived 2018-04-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Liza Gross (2006). "Conflict within the genome: evolving defenses to suppress the male killers". PLOS Biology. 4 (9): e308. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040308. PMC 1551929. PMID 20076639.
  4. ^ a b c d Cyril Clarke; P. M. Sheppard (1975). "The genetics of the mimetic butterfly Hypolimnas bolina (L.)". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 272 (917): 229–265. Bibcode:1975RSPTB.272..229C. doi:10.1098/rstb.1975.0084. JSTOR 2417483. PMID 4830.
  5. ^ Clarke, C.; Sheppard, P. M. (1975-11-13). "The genetics of the mimetic butterfly Hypolimnas bolina (L.)". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences. 272 (917): 229–265. Bibcode:1975RSPTB.272..229C. doi:10.1098/rstb.1975.0084. ISSN 0080-4622. PMID 4830.
  6. ^ Kemp, Darrell J.; Macedonia, Joseph M. (2006). "Structural ultraviolet ornamentation in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina L. (Nymphalidae): visual, morphological and ecological properties". Australian Journal of Zoology. 54 (4): 235. doi:10.1071/ZO06005. ISSN 0004-959X.
  7. ^ Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Bingham, Charles Thomas (1905). Fauna of British India. Butterflies Vol. 1. pp. 386–388.
  8. ^ Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Moore, Frederic (1899–1900). Lepidoptera Indica. Vol. IV. London: Lovell Reeve and Co. pp. 137–144.
  9. ^ Kemp, Darrell J.; Jones, Rhondda E. (January 2001). "Phenotypic plasticity in field populations of the tropical butterfly Hypolimnas bolina (L.) (Nymphalidae)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 72 (1): 33–45. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01299.x.
  10. ^ a b c Early, John W.; Parrish, G. Richard; Ryan, Paddy A. (1995). "An Invasion of Australian Blue Moon and Blue Tiger Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in New Zealand". Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum. 32: 45–53. ISSN 0067-0464. JSTOR 42906451. Wikidata Q58677481.
  11. ^ Common, I. F. B. (1972). Butterflies of Australia. D. F. Waterhouse. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-12356-X. OCLC 673736.
  12. ^ McCubbin, Charles (1971). Australian butterflies. Robert Gordon Menzies. [Melbourne]: Nelson. ISBN 0-17-001895-4. OCLC 226229.
  13. ^ Rutowski, Ronald (1992). "Male mate-locating behavior in the common eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina (Nymphalidae)". Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 46: 24–38.
  14. ^ Darrell J. Kemp (2001). "Age-related site fidelity in the territorial butterfly Hypolimnas bolina (L.) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)". Australian Journal of Entomology. 40 (1): 65–68. doi:10.1046/j.1440-6055.2001.00199.x.
  15. ^ Darrell J. Kemp; Ronald L. Rutowski (2001). "Spatial and temporal patterns of territorial mate locating behaviour in Hypolimnas bolina (L.) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)" (PDF). Journal of Natural History. 35 (9): 1399–1411. Bibcode:2001JNatH..35.1399K. doi:10.1080/002229301750384329. S2CID 38496069.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Kemp, Darrell J. (1998). "Oviposition behaviour of post-diapause Hypolimnas bolina (L.) (Lepidoptera : Nymphalidae) in tropical Australia". Australian Journal of Zoology. 46 (5): 451. doi:10.1071/ZO98011. ISSN 0004-959X.
  17. ^ K. Kunte (2006). "Additions to the known larval host plants of Indian butterflies". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 103 (1): 119–121.
  18. ^ T. R. Bell (1910). "Common Butterflies of the Plains of India". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 20 (2): 287–289.
  19. ^ A. Rajagopalan (2005). "A new food plant of the Great Eggfly". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 102 (3): 355.
  20. ^ E. A. Dyson; M. K. Kamath; G. D. Hurst (2002). "Wolbachia infection associated with all-female broods in Hypolimnas bolina (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): evidence for horizontal transmission of a butterfly male killer". Heredity. 88 (3): 166–171. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800021. PMID 11920117.
  21. ^ Sylvain Charlat; Emily A. Hornett; James H. Fullard; Neil Davies; George K. Roderick; Nina Wedell; Gregory D. D. Hurst (2007). "Extraordinary flux in sex ratio". Science. 317 (5835): 214. Bibcode:2007Sci...317..214C. doi:10.1126/science.1143369. PMID 17626876. S2CID 45723069.
  22. ^ Hornett, E.A. et al The Evolution of Sex Ratio Distorter Suppression Affects a 25 cM Genomic Region in the Butterfly Hypolimnas bolina (2014) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1004822
  23. ^ Reynodls, L.A. et al. Suppression of Wolbachia-mediated male-killing in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina involves a single genomic region (2019) https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7677
  24. ^ Yong, E. The Strange Case of the Butterfly and the Male-Murdering Microbe (2016) https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/08/the-strange-case-of-the-butterfly-and-the-male-killer/496637/

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