Hypochrysops apelles (Fabricius, 1775)
Copper Jewel
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Hypochrysops apelles
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar is flattened and has fleshy lumps on most segmemts. The caterpillar is coloured green with a black head, tail and thorax, and a pair of brown lines along the back. The head and tail are covered in bristles. The caterpillar hides by day in a shelter of joined leaves, feeding nocturnally. The caterpillar feeds on part of each leaf, leaving the leaves with a skeletonised burnt appearance Near the coast, the Caterpillar has been found feeding on various Mangroves:

  • Grey Mangrove ( Avicennia marina, ACANTHACEAE ),
  • Sandy Mangrove ( Lumnitzera racemosa, COMBRETACEAE ),
  • Black Mangrove ( Bruguiera gymnorhiza, RHIZOPHORACEAE ),
  • Spurred Mangrove ( Ceriops tagal , RHIZOPHORACEAE ),
  • Stilted Mangrove ( Rhizophora stylosa, RHIZOPHORACEAE ),

    and away from the coast on a variety of plants, including:

  • Kong-an ( Vandasina retusa, FABACEAE ),
  • Billy Goat Plum ( Planchonia careya, LECYTHIDACEAE ),
  • Quinine Bush ( Petalostigma pubescens, LOGANIACEAE ),
  • Yellow Wattle, ( Acacia flavescens, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Rough Barked Apple ( Angophora floribunda, MYRTACEAE ), and
  • Red Ash ( Alphitonia excelsa, RHAMNACEAE ).

    The caterpillar is always attended by the small black ants :

  • Acrobat Ants ( Crematogaster, MYRMICINAE ).

    Hypochrysops apelles
    (Photo: courtesy Brett Howton, Narangba, Queensland)

    It pupates in sparse cocoon in a leafy shelter. The pupa is pale grey with dark brown spots, and has a length of about 1 cm.

    Hypochrysops apelles
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, South Stradbroke Island, Queensland)

    The adults are orange in colour with broad black bands along the costa and margin of each forewing. The females have broader black areas than the males.

    Hypochrysops apelles
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, South Stradbroke Island, Queensland)

    The undersurfaces of the wings are fawn, with iridescent green and black markings along the costa and margin under the forewings, and rusty brown lines of various lengths edged in iridescent green under the hindwings. The wingspan is about 3 cms.

    Hypochrysops apelles
    (Picture: courtesy of The Insect Company)

    The eggs of this species are white, and ridged and pitted with a height of about 1 mm. They are laid singly under leaves of a foodplant.

    Hypochrysops apelles
    (Picture: courtesy of The Insect Company)

    The species occurs in

  • New Guinea,

    and in the north-eastern coastal area of Australia,

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 666-667.

    Edward Donovan,
    General Illustration of Entomology,
    An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
    London (1803), Part 1, p. 137, and also Plate p. 136.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    1775, p. 524, No. 343.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 15 November 2012, 3 November 2013, 15 July 2020)