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Wonder Brown (Heteronympha mirifica)

Wonder Brown
Upperside of a female. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 01/03/2008)

Appearance: Male upperside mainly orange with a few dark brown patches and eyespots. Male underside light brown and orange. Female upperside dark brown with broad, cream-coloured band on the fore wing. Female underside similar, but hind wings grey-brown marbled.
Wingspan: 5.2–6.2 cm
Season: 1 generation; males usually in spring and summer, females more common in late summer and autumn.
Range: Along the east coast of Australia; from south-eastern QLD through coastal NSW into the eastern tip of VIC.
Habitat: Subtropical and temperate rainforest.

Description

The Wonder Brown is a truly miraculous butterfly. Males and females look totally different and are easily mistaken for two separate species. The fact that males are usually on the wing in spring and early summer whereas females are more commonly encountered in late summer and autumn only adds to the confusion. Wonder Brown males are notoriously difficult to find, because they usually fly high up in the tree tops and seldom descent down to the ground. Females, in contrast, spend most of their time flying around the low vegetation and often rest on exposed leaves close to ground level.

The Wonder Brown can be found along the east coast of Australia from south-eastern QLD across eastern NSW into the eastern-most tip of VIC. Although Wonder Browns mainly occur along the edges of coastal temperate and subtropical rainforest, they can also be found in the mountains up to about 1400 m in northern areas.

While females are completely unmistakable, males could potentially be confused with similar species, such as the Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii), the Forest Brown (Argynnina cyrila), and other species in the genus Heteronympha.

Additional Photos

Wonder Brown
The male underside is mainly light brown and orange with with a number of faint eyespots and patches. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 09/11/2014)
Wonder Brown
The female underside looks completely different. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 08/03/2008)
Wonder Brown
The upperside of the male is orange and brown with a conspicuous eyespot on each wing. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 09/11/2014)
Wonder Brown
The upperside of the female is dark brown with a broad, cream-coloured band on the fore wing. (Lane Cove NP, NSW, 01/03/2008)