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Spotted Alpine Xenica (Oreixenica orichora)

Spotted Alpine Xenica
Subsp. paludosa. (Cradle Valley, TAS, 28/12/2011)

Appearance: Fairly small. Upperside brown with extended, orange patches. Marbled underside very similar to that of the Ringed Xenica (Geitoneura acantha) and other Oreixenica species.
Wingspan: 3 cm
Season: 1 generation from December until March.
Range: Restricted to eastern VIC, south-eastern NSW, ACT, and central TAS.
Habitat: Alpine grassland; above 750 m in TAS, above 1200 m on the mainland.

Description

The Spotted Alpine Xenica is a montane species that only occurs at higher altitude in the alpine areas of south-eastern Australia, including central Tasmania. The butterflies fly in one generation in summer on alpine grassland where they are usually common. The population in TAS forms a separate subspecies, paludosa, which has a characteristic double eyespot on the upperside of the fore wing (see photo), whereas specimens on the mainland (subspecies orichora) have only one eyespot.

The Spotted Alpine Xenica is very similar to several other species in the genus Oreixenica, and only a detailed study of the complex pattern on the underside of the wings will allow to distinguish the different species. In addition, the underside looks similar to that of the Ringed Xenica (Geitoneura acantha) which is common and widespread throughout south-eastern Australia.