The Imperial Jezebel is in South Australia again!

Imperial Jezebel (Delias harpalyce) Photo: Bob Green

Bryan is our resident invertebrate expert, and is particularly adept at butterfly identification. So recently when he spotted some unusual butterfly observations popping up on iNaturalist, he was reminded of his own surprising sighting of this particular butterfly, which seems to be straying out of its usual home range.
Here’s his story:

“In November 2017, my dog (Poppy) and I stumbled across an Imperial Jezebel (Delias harpalyce) butterfly near Mt Gambier, in the south east corner of South Australia. Researching this species you will find that they are a large butterfly from the Pieridae family, occurring in eastern Australia, in tall damp forests and woodlands, but not in South Australia – actually, nowhere near SA at all. The western end of the Imperial Jezebel’s range until 2017 didn’t come as far as SA, but was documented as being in the Grampians and down towards Warrnambool in western Victoria.

So what was it doing here in SA?

I believe our 2017 observation was wind-assisted from southern Victoria on an easterly wind, and with all the storms and again easterly winds we have been getting lately, perhaps more might be on their way.

There have been further observations in South Australia recently via iNaturalist and other interested observers have managed to get good pictures, like this one from Bob Green.

The Imperial Jezebel can be seen flying almost any month of the year, and their larvae feed on mistletoe – a native parasitic plant commonly seen on eucalyptus, acacia and melaleuca.

Spotted Jezebel (Delias agannipe) Photo: Bryan Haywood

They are very similar to the Spotted Jezebel (pictured above). This year seems particularly good for both species with several observations have coming through only in the last week. If you happen to see any, please take a photo and let us know about it.”

Bryan Haywood