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Common Brown (Heteronympha merope)

Common Brown
Male. (Blue Mountains NP, NSW, 08 / 11 / 2009)

Appearance: Upperside dark brown with extended orange colouration. Males have an elongated sex-brand on the fore wing. Male underside light brown with dark markings and eyespots. Female hind wing underside mainly grey-brown marbled, fore wing underside more colourful.
Wingspan: 5.5–6.5 cm
Season: 1 extended generation, spring until autumn.
Range: South-eastern Australia (from eastern QLD through NSW, ACT, and VIC into south-eastern SA), south-western WA, and TAS.
Habitat: Various habitats, in particular open forest and woodland; also in suburban parks and gardens.

Description

As its name suggests, the Common Brown is one of the most common butterflies of Australia. It can be found almost anywhere in large numbers and particularly prefers open forests, woodland, and parks. The Common Brown can be found throughout south-eastern QLD, eastern and southern NSW, the ACT, VIC, south-eastern SA, south-western WA, and TAS. The populations of WA and TAS form two separate subspecies, duboulayi and salazar, respectively.

Males and females look very different and could easily be mistaken for separate species. Males usually appear several weeks before the females. Common Browns are often very alert and difficult to approach. They frequently rest on the ground with their wings closed, where they are perfectly camouflaged and almost impossible to spot unless they are disturbed.

There are several similar species across Australia, in particular in the genus Heteronympha, but due to its size and general appearance the Common Brown is relatively easy to identify.

Additional Photos

Common Brown
Upperside of the male with elongated sex-brand on the fore wings. (Yarra Bend Park, VIC, 04 / 12 / 2005)
Common Brown
Females have the upperside orange colour more extended and no sex-brand. (Grampians NP, VIC, 27 / 12 / 2009)
Common Brown
Males have the underside light brown with various dark markings and eyespots. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 11 / 11 / 2007)
Common Brown
The female underside looks very different and more colourful. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 08 / 03 / 2008)
Common Brown
Underside of a male of the WA subspecies, Heteronympha merope duboulayi. (Yallingup, WA, 27 / 12 / 2010)
Common Brown
Underside of a female of the WA subspecies, Heteronympha merope duboulayi. (Yallingup, WA, 27 / 12 / 2010)
Common Brown
Upperside of a male of the WA subspecies, Heteronympha merope duboulayi. (Warren NP, WA, 23 / 12 / 2013)
Common Brown
Another view of the underside of a male of Heteronympha merope duboulayi. (Warren NP, WA, 23 / 12 / 2013)
Common Brown
Underside of a male of the TAS subspecies, Heteronympha merope salazar. (Rosevears, TAS, 26 / 12 / 2011)
Common Brown
Upperside of a male of the TAS subspecies, Heteronympha merope salazar. (Narawntapu NP, TAS, 26 / 12 / 2011)
Common Brown
On cloudy days the butterflies often rest in the vegetation with their wings closed. (Ingleburn, NSW, 29 / 11 / 2009)
Common Brown
When resting on the ground with their wings closed, females perfectly blend in with the leaf litter. (Ingleburn, NSW, 13 / 03 / 2010)