cruiser butterfly femaleA colourful addition to Thala’s wildlife, the Cruiser Butterfly is a conspicuous resident that swoops and flutters amidst the local vegetation. It’s a member of the Nymphalidae family, also known as the four-footed butterflies, which comprise about 5,000 butterflies distributed throughout the world.

Found from Malaku through to mainland Guinea and northern Queensland, this orange and graceful cruiser has a wingspan of approximately 8cm. It also possesses several curious characteristics unique to its species.

The female Cruiser Butterfly is much more elusive than the male, and has different markings on its body. Contained on the upper side of its forewings are dark tips, while the centre contains a broad white band that runs down to the edge of its hindwing, where lie two small eye spots.

The male, by comparison, has a bright orange-yellow upper side and a forewing that’s brown at the base with black markings. Males also appear to establish their territory by standing ground on a leaf during full sunlight. The marked difference in appearance of the male and female Cruiser Butterfly make it a sexually dimorphic species.

The eggs of the Cruiser Butterfly are laid on plants such as native passion vines (something to ponder during a tropical breakfast), while the food of adult cruisers consist of nectar from a range of flowers.

One of Thala’s more splendid looking residents, the Cruiser Butterfly appears most abundant just after the wet season.