It is clear that native plants attract native fauna and indeed some butterflies and moths like the Sheoake Moth larvae appear to feed only on certain species of Allocasuarina. They also form part of a significant food chain we see developing in the Park as it grows more biodiverse.
According to Melbourne’s Wildlife – A field guide to the fauna of Greater Melbourne:
The butterflies and moths form one of the most species-diverse groups of insects, second only to the beetles. In Australia there are about 50 species of moths for every described species of butterfly. In the Melbourne region more than 80 species of butterflies have been recorded, and there are probably a few thousand species of moths. Butterflies and moths are distinguished from other insects by their two pairs of scaly wings and their long, coiled mouthparts that re used for sucking up liquids such as nectar. As a general rule, butterflies are day-flying and most moths fly at night, and butterflies have clubbed antennae (swollen at the end) whereas moths seldom have this feature and their antennae are often feathered.
Caper White – Belonois java teutonia
Caper Whites migrate from inland in the north (sometimes in flocks) and are seen in the spring months. The larvae prefer to feed on the leaves and shoots of the Capparis mitchellii – native orange, and Apophyllum anomaly – Currant Bush, neither of which occur naturally in Victoria so the species is reliant on ornamental plantings of Capparis.
Spotted Jezebel – Delias aganippe
Spotted Jezebels occur throughout Victoria in a wide range of habitats from December to March. They migrate from the north and the larval food is Wire-leaf Mistletoe and Cherry Ballart.
The Common Brown can readily be seen in the park from December to April with the males appearing first and dying out by mid-January. The females live till late autumn so that they can lay eggs on grasses emerging after the first decent rain when conditions become cooler. This species feed on a broad range of grasses both indigenous and exotic.
Meadow Argus – Junonia villida
Meadow Argus appears mostly in the late summer early autumn months. It has the widest distribution for any butterfly, being found in all parts of Australia extending to SE Asia and the Pacific including PNG and Fiji. The larvae feed on a huge range of plants both native and exotic.
Greenish Grass-dart – Ocybadistes walkeri
Greenish Grass-dart is a small Skipper butterfly common throughout Melb. The larval food includes a range of native grasses, but they have adapted to exotic grasses such as Ehrharta and Paspalum, which have made the suburbs a good habitat for this species. They have not yet been seen one in Westgate but we are very confident that they would be there
Chequered Swallowtail – Papilio demoleus
This butterfly is widespread in Australia although not so along the south-east coast. The larvae feed on a wide variety of native and exotic plants and, unusually for butterfly larvae, on the pea family.
Cabbage White – Pieris rapae
The Cabbage White was accidentally introduced in 1937 and now widespread and considered to be a pest. Its velvety green larvae feed principally on vegetables in the cabbage family.
Saltbush Blue – Theclinesthes serpentata
The Saltbush Blue butterfly is widespread, flies throughout the year. Its larvae feed mainly on the leaves and flowerheads of Atriplex and Einadia nutans plants and are ‘attended’ by ants.
Yellow Admiral – Vanessa itea
Yellow Admiral butterflies are widespread in a range of habitats and is seen in the Park from early spring, producing several generations over summer. Whilst the larvae prefer stinging nettles, they feed on the fermented sap flowing from trees and calistemon nectar.
Australian Painted Lady – Vanessa kershawi
Australian Painted Lady appears mostly in the spring months and the larvae feed on native daisies such as Helichrysum and exotics such as Capeweed. This species is closely related to the Aust. Admiral.
Common Grass-blue – Zizina labradus
A widespread butterfly, the Common Grass-blue larvae mostly feed on exotic grasses and vegetables as well as native Glycine, Indigofera and Lotus plants.
In Australia there are over 10,000 named species of moths and a further estimated 10,000 yet to be studied or discovered. Unlike butterflies, moths fly mostly at night and are usually known by their more visible larvae and often their ingenious protective cases.
Leaf Miner – Galacticidae or Gracillariidae sp.
Ribbed Leaf Case Moth or Bagworm – Hyalarcta nigrescens
The caterpillar uses only silk for its protective case and constructs seven longitudinal ribs for reinforcement. The female adult is wingless and remains in her case.
Saunders’ Case Moth – Metura elongatus
The Saunders’ Case Moth larvae have striking black and orange markings and weave a strong silk case decorated with twigs. It feeds on a wide variety of plants including eucalypts, paperbarks and tea trees.
Sheoake Moth – Pernattia pusilla
The Sheoake Moth – Pernattia pusilla – lays its oval white eggs along branchlets of its host; the Allocasuarina verticillata – Drooping Sheoake. The spent egg shells are shown above. The beautiful caterpillars are well camouflaged with red, blue and grey stripes and dense hair. In early spring the caterpillars retreat to pupate inside a silk cocoon.
Sparshall’s Moth – Trichiocercus sparshalli
The adult Sparshall’s Moth is attractive with white wings and black and red head and flies during summer and autumn. The larvae feed on a range of eucalyptus and allocasuarina species.
Gum-leaf Skeletoniser – Uraba lugens
The adult Gum-leaf Skeletoniser moth is grey with darker grey wavy lines. The larvae graze on eucalyptus leaves in large groups when young. Their hairs can cause skin irritation if handled. Oddly, they retain the old head capsule at each moult creating a tower on the head. They pupate in a silk cocoon.