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Shouldered Brown (Heteronympha penelope)

Shouldered Brown
Upperside of a male. (Blue Mountains NP, NSW, 21 / 02 / 2010)

Appearance: Upperside brown with extended orange areas; males have a broad sex-brand covering the fore wing cell. Underside mainly orange with characteristic pattern of dark patches, lines, and eyespots. Very similar to other Heteronympha species.
Wingspan: 5.5 cm
Season: 1 generation from January until April.
Range: Mountain ranges of south-eastern Australia; from south-eastern QLD through eastern NSW, the ACT, VIC, south-eastern SA, and TAS.
Habitat: Open forest and woodland with grassy understorey.


The Shouldered Brown is a common and widespread species along the Great Dividing Range and neighbouring mountain ranges. It is usually found at higher altitudes of up to 1600 m. In cooler areas in the south, however, the species can be found all the way down to sea level. Males are very territorial and are often seen sitting on the ground from where they watch for passing females. When disturbed, they often return to their original lookout after a short flight.

The Shouldered Brown is very similar to other species in the genus Heteronympha, in particular the Common Brown (Heteronympha merope), the Spotted Brown (Heteronympha paradelpha), and Solander’s Brown (Heteronympha solandri). Males can be easily identified by their broad, dark sex-brand on the upperside near the base of the fore wing which looks like a broad “shoulder”. In addition, both sexes have a characteristic pattern of narrow, dark lines and two small to medium-sized eyespots on the hind wing underside.

Additional Photos

Shouldered Brown
Upperside of a male with the characteristic dark, broad sex-brand on the fore wings. (Blue Mountains NP, NSW, 21 / 02 / 2010)
Shouldered Brown
The male underside is mainly orange with dark patches and lines and two eyespots on the hind wing. (Blue Mountains NP, NSW, 21 / 02 / 2010)
Shouldered Brown
The butterflies (here a male) occasionally feed from flowers. (Blue Mountains NP, NSW, 19 / 02 / 2011)