Ogyris abrota Westwood, 1851
Dark Purple Azure
(one synonym : Ogyris damo Westwood, 1851)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Ogyris abrota
(Photo from: "Flying Colours", Coupar & Coupar, 1992)

The Caterpillar of this species is flat and pinkish-brown with dark markings and a dark dorsal line. It is often attended by ants of various genera including :

  • Acrobat Ants ( Crematogaster, MYRMICINAE ),
  • Rhytidoponera ( ECTATOMMINAE ),
  • Technomyrmex ( DOLICHODERINAE ), and even
  • Argentine Ants ( Linepithema humile, DOLICHODERINAE ).

    The caterpillar feeds nocturnally on Mistletoes (LORANTHACEAE), such as:

  • Erect Mistletoe ( Amyema congener ),
  • Long Flowered Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe vitellina ),
  • Coast Mistletoe ( Muellerina celastroides ), and
  • Creeping Mistletoe ( Muellerina eucalyptoides ),

    which are variously parasitic on :

  • She-oaks ( Allocasuarina, CASUARINACAE ),
  • Gum ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ), and
  • Candle Flowers ( Banksia, PROTEACEAE ).

    The caterpillars are gregarious and may be found during the day hiding under the bark of a tree on which the foodplant is a parasite. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 2.5 cms.

    Pupation occurs under loose bark. The pupa is smooth and brown, with a length of about 1.5 cms.

    Ogyris abrota
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The male adults are purple on top, with dark brown margins.

    Ogyris abrota
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The females are dark brown on top with a large cream patch on each forewing.

    Ogyris abrota
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Boris Branwhite, Wyong Shire, New South Wales)

    Underneath, the forewings are dark brown, with pale wing-tips. The undersides of the hindwings have a complex brown pattern. The males have some white crescent markings on the underside of the forewings. The females have a large cream spot. The butterflies have a wing-span of about 4 cms.

    Ogyris abrota
    female, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    Always easy to spot but much harder to catch. The adults fly around eucalypt canopies and feed off their sap rather than flowers, so rarely come near ground level. The easiest way to obtain one is to search the mistletoe foodplants for larvae or pupae.

    Ogyris abrota
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Kingston, Victoria)

    The eggs of this species are white and mandarin shaped, each with about 1,000 tiny dimples. The egg has a diameter of about 0.8 mm. The eggs are laid in small clusters of one to six on loose bark of Mistletoe host plants.

    The species occurs in the high country in

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Ogyris abrota
    female, drawing by John O. Westwood
    Genera of diurnal Lepidoptera, Volume 2 (1851), Plate 75, fig. 8.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 693-694.

    John O. Westwood,
    Genera of diurnal Lepidoptera,
    Volume 2 (1851), p. 472, No. 1, and also Plate 75, fig. 8.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 22 December 2012, 21 September 2013, 31 July 2020, 9 September 2021)