Varied Sedge Skipper
Appearance: Similar to the Blue Iris Skipper (Mesodina cyanophracta), but five of the spots on the hind wing underside form a characteristic straight line.
Wingspan: 3.0–3.5 cm
Season: Spring–autumn in 1 or 2 generations, depending on altitude and climate.
Range: From south-eastern SA across southern VIC, the ACT and eastern NSW to south-eastern QLD. Also in TAS and south-western WA.
Habitat: Wide variety of habitats; wherever the larval foodplants occur.
The Varied Sedge Skipper, also known as the Donnysa Skipper, is one of the most widespread butterflies of Australia and can be found in both south-western and south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Depending on altitude and climate, it flies either in one generation during late spring and early summer, or in two generations from spring until autumn. The caterpillars feed on various different Sword Grass species (genus Gahnia), as a result of which the Varied Sedge Skipper can be found in a large variety of different habitats wherever the foodplants grow. The butterflies are also frequently encountered in suburban gardens where they feed from flowers such as Buddleja.
The common name of this species is a reference to its general variability which appears to be induced by variations in climatic conditions such as temperature and rainfall. Consequently, the Varied Sedge Skipper is split into a number of different subspecies that all slightly differ in appearance and flight period.
The Varied Sedge Skipper looks similar to a few other species of Hesperilla, in particular the Yellow Sedge Skipper (Hesperilla flavescens) that is found across parts of SA and VIC. From the similar Blue Iris Skipper (Mesodina cyanophracta) it is readily distinguished by the fact that five of the spots on the underside of the hind wing form a conspicuous and characteristic straight line.