(previously known as Papilio boeticus)
POLYOMMATINI, POLYOMMATINAE, LYCAENIDAE, PAPILIONOIDEA
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Manly, New South Wales)
The Caterpillars of this species are slug-like, with no apparent legs. The caterpillars are off-white with a black head.
The caterpillars have been fouund feeding on many members of the plant family FABACEAE, e.g:
The caterpillars feed on the the flowers of their foodplant, and grow to a length of 1 cm.
The caterpillars pupate in a flower, so that when the flower dies, and shrivels, and falls to the ground, the pupa falls with it. The pupation period varies from about a fortnight to a year, even for caterpillars that pupated at the same time!
The adults are dimorphic: the males and females being different. The upper surfaces of the wings of the males are blue, whereas those of the females are blue with wide dark brown edges.
Underneath, both sexes have a brown and white pattern. They both have a little tail on each hindwing, with a pair of small black eye-spots beside each tail. Presumably, the pair of eye-spots and tails (fake antennae) are useful for confusing predators about which end of the animal is which. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 3 cms.
Males set up small territories which they patrol, fighting off rival males who trespass. If the resident male is removed, another one soon appears take his place. The same territory is used by different males year after year.
The caterpillars begin life as yellow toroidal eggs, each covered in a microscopic open white mesh. The eggs are about 0.4 mm. across, often laid singly on the flower buds of a foodplant.
The species is found all over the world, including :
and of course in Australia, including
Ascension Island, 1989
Further reading :
Michael F. Braby,
Butterflies of Australia,
CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 831, 861, 864, 865.
Kelvyn L. Dunn,
Field Notes: Gulf Country exensions to the known distribution of the Long-tailed Pea-blue, Lampides boeticus (Linneaeus 1767) in Queensland (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae),
Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
Issue 69 (June 2013), pp. 17-23.
Edition 12, Class 5, Tome 1, Part 2 (1767), p. 789, No. 226.
(updated 31 May 2013, 20 September 2013, 4 August 2020, 8 September 2021)