Meadow Argus Butterfly - Junonia villida


This page contains information and pictures about Meadow Argus Butterflies in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Wingspan 55mm, female                                                                                  
This butterfly is medium in size, brown in colour with eye-pattern on all the wings. There are also the orange and white marks on the top edge of its forewings. The butterfly is a rapid flyer in open space. They like to sunbathe with wings open. They usually fly close to the ground.
This butterfly is common in Brisbane. We see them start flying around in August, become abundance in September.  
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Male                                                                    Female 
When sunbathing, they like to rest on the ground on on grass close to the ground. They open their wings in flat and facing towards the sun. When we come close to within two meters, they rapidly fly to to another spot for sunbathing a few meters away. Males defence their territory, which could be a small open circular area in diameter of a few meters. 
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Meadow Argus Butterflies are often seen when we go for bush walking. We noticed that the butterfly set up its own territory by patching on ground. When there is another Meadow Argus Butterfly or some other flying insect come in, it will chase them away.
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Usually at the same location that we found the Meadow Argus Butterfly, we can also found the Painted Lady Butterfly.

Caterpillar and Pupa

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Length 35mm 
We found this caterpillar (above pictures) on White Hill top during later summer. The Meadow Argus caterpillars are black with short thick spines. They feed on plants openly by day and night. They are extremely slow moving. Their host plains are a number of herbs including plantains, Goodenia and Scaevola.
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We took the caterpillar home with some branches of its host plant as its food. We used a small glass bottle with water to keep the plant fresh. Few days later, it pupated on the wall of the bottle. About 10 days later, a Meadow Argus butterfly came out from the pupa.

Resting Postures and Eye-spots Patterns

We noticed an interesting fact about the Meadow Argus Butterfly. When rests, the butterfly will sit in either four postures, depend on the situations.
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When there are the sun light, the butterfly opens it wings in a relax posture. When it feels the danger, such as our approaching, it opens its front wings further to show the hidden eye-spots on its hind wings.  
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When there are no sun light, such as the sun shaded by the clouds, the butterfly close its wings. When it feels the danger, it raises its forewings to show the hidden eye-spots, this time, on its front wings. If the danger seems disappear, such as we stop moving, the butterfly rest back in the relax posture about a minute later.
Eye-spots pattern is believed an importance defense mechanism of butterflies and moths. Eye spot patterns are common in butterflies and moths. Many species have this pattern on top side, underneath or both side of their front and hind wings. Those spot help the butterflies to survive in two ways. 
Some butterflies, like the Meadow Argus, have big eye-spots on their wings. When they are at rest, they cover the eye spots by the front wings. When a predator, such as a bird, come close, the butterfly will suddenly show the eye spots, to scare it away. 
Some other butterflies, like the Evening Brown, Orange Ringlet, and the Blues, with only small eyespots. Usually those spots are on the edge of their wings, the less critical part of their body. Those spot are used to puzzle the predator to use it as target. If being attached, the butterfly just loss a small bit of wing edge and fly away. Sometimes we find find a Evening brown butterfly with a small triangular price of wing is missing, just like being bitten off by a bird. 
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We found the above different Meadow Argus butterflies on ground. Theirs wings, mainly the part with eyespots, were broken. Those eyespots may have save their life. 
Please also visit this web pages for more information about defense mechanisms in butterflies.

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Last updated: February 15, 2011.