Banks' Brown Butterfly Heteronympha banksii

Butterflies of Melbourne series


Wingspan 45 mm. Above, black with orange markings and a white spot near the apex on the forewing; hindwing with a distinct eyespot. Beneath, reddish brown and orange with black markings; hindwing yellowish with red-brown bands, suffused with purplish brown and with small eyespots.

Upperside of live Banks’ Brown
Photographer: Ross Field / Source: Museum Victoria

Underside of live Banks’ Brown on Poa tenera
Photographer: Ross Field / Source: Museum Victoria


This butterfly occurs on the tablelands and mountains east of Melbourne, where it favours grassy slopes. Another form occurs in the Grampians. The species ranges from southern Queensland to Victoria.


This is a late summer and autumn species that can be abundant locally. The larvae feed at night on a range of soft grasses (Poa spp.). Eggs are laid on the leaf blades in the autumn. The mature larvae are brown spotted with darker brown, and the head has a pair of short rounded horns. The pupae are green or brown with darker markings and hang suspended head down from a silken pad at the tip of the abdomen.

Eggs of Banks’ Brown with larvae hatching
Photographer: Ross Field / Source: Museum Victoria

Larva of Banks’ Brown
Photographer: Ross Field / Source: Museum Victoria

Pupa of Banks’ Brown
Photographer: Ross Field / Source: Museum Victoria

Distribution and record dates for the Banks’ Brown near Melbourne (Source Butterfly Bioinformatics, Museum Victoria)

Distribution and record dates for the Banks’ Brown in Victoria (Source Butterfly Bioinformatics, Museum Victoria)

Further Reading

Braby, M. F. 2000. Butterflies of Australia: Their Identification, Biology and Distribution. CSIRO Publishing.

Common, I. F. B. and Waterhouse, D. F. 1981. Butterflies of Australia (revised edition). Angus & Robertson.

Comments (4)

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Elliot Bedford 6 December, 2013 10:12
I found a butterfly this morning, but before I could take a photo, it flew away. Me and Mum had a good look at it and are fairly sure, from looking at photos, that it is a Bank's Brown butterfly. But, we live in the South West of Western Australia! Is it likely to find one over here?
Rosemary Horton 22 February, 2015 09:21
I found what looks like a Banks Brown Butterfly upside down on a path near my fish pond in Lilydale Victoria, thinking it might be an Eltham Brown I photographed it carefully and can email it to any one interested as I have more detail on every part of it than seen in ID photos.
iChaz 28 February, 2016 10:32
In mid-February 2016, I found a multitude of butterflies on Mount Stirling in the Victorian Alps. My photographs seem to closely match the official images of the Banks' Brown butterfly Heteronympha banksii. The specimens that I saw were found at about 1300 to 1500 metres altitude. Happy to send photographs if anybody wants them.
Discovery Centre 29 February, 2016 13:43
Hi iChaz, that altitude does sound high for this species, we'd be happy to have a look at the images and see if we can confirm it was the Banks' Brown. Feel free to send your images to and just note that they are for enquiry number 45971.
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