Laced fritillary or Australian fritillary butterfly - endangered species listing

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the butterfly Argyreus hyperbius (Linnaeus, 1763) the Laced Fritillary or Australian Fritillary as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act. Listing of endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. Argyreus hyperbius is described by Braby (2000) as: Wingspan: male 60 mm; female 66 mm. Upperside: pale orange-brown, with numerous black spots and a black terminal band enclosing orange-brown streaks. Underside: fore wing pinkish-orange, with numerous black spots, and apex pale brown with greenish-brown spots; hind wing ground colour pale brown, intricately laced with black and silver markings and greenish-brown spots, and a narrow silver terminal line tinged with green. The female is similar to the male, but the black terminal band on the upperside is broader, particularly on the fore wing, the apex of which is also broadly black. Immature stages. Egg: 0.9 mm high, 0.7 mm wide; pale yellow; dome-shaped with longitudinal and transverse ribs. Larva: to 45 mm long; body black, with a broad orange middorsal band, some obscure pinkish-orange lateral markings on abdomen, and numerous long branched spines; thoracic spines black with dull orange or reddish-pink bases; abdominal spines reddish-pink, tipped with black; head with two small blunt horns. Pupa: 26 mm long; brown or pale brown.

2. The larval food plant of Argyreus hyperbius isViola betonicifolia (Lambkin and Lambkin 1977). Eggs are laid singly on a leaf of the larval food plant. Early instars remain on the foliage of the food plant, feeding by night. Later instars feed during the day and leave the plant at night to seek shelter. The larva pupates suspended from a branch or twig. Adults feed from flowers and fly during most months of the year.

3. Argyreus hyperbius is restricted to a few widely separated localities of open swampy coastal habitat in eastern Australia, from south of Gympie, Queensland to north of Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

4. Argyreus hyperbius habitat has been destroyed at many former sites. Coastal swamps containing Viola betonicifolia have been largely destroyed by farming and urbanisation and Argyreus hyperbius was believed to be endangered. Argyreus hyperbius is only known from a few widely separated localities through its range. The few remaining extant populations are threatened by weed invasion which displaces the host plant as well as by swamp drainage and coastal development. (Dunnet al., 1994; Sands, 1999; Braby 2000).

In view of the above the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Argyreus hyperbius (Linnaeus, 1763) is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.

Proposed Gazettal date: 20/12/02

Exhibition period: 20/12/02 - 07/02/03


Braby, M.F. (2000). Butterflies of Australia: their identification, biology and distribution. (CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne).

Dunn, K. L., Kitching, R. L, and Dexter, E. M. (1994). The Conservation Status of Australian Butterflies. 381 pp. Unpublished report to the Australian NPWS (Canberra, ACT).

Lambkin, T. A. and Lambkin, K. J. (1977). Observations on the life history of Argyreus hyperbius inconstans Butler (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidea). Australian Entomological Magazine17, 13-16.

Sands, D. P. A. (1999). Conservation Status of Lepidoptera: assessment, threatening processes and recovery actions. The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates (Eds W. Ponder and D. Lunney) pp. 382 - 387. (Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman.)

About the NSW Scientific Committee

Page last updated: 28 February 2011