Lampides boeticus (Linnaeus, 1767)
Pea Blue
(previously known as Papilio boeticus)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Lampides boeticus
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Manly, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars begin life as white toroidal eggs. These are about 0.2 mm. across, laid singly on the flower buds of the foodplant, which can be almost any member of the family FABACEAE, e.g:

  • Tree Lucerne ( Chamaecytisus prolifer ),
  • Sturt's Desert Pea ( Clianthus formosus ),
  • Rattle-Box ( Crotalaria species ),
  • English Broom ( Cytisus scoparius ).
  • Hyacinth Bean ( Dolichos lablab ),
  • Running Postman ( Kennedia prostrata ),
  • Sweet Pea ( Lathyrus odoratus ),
  • Trefoil ( Lotus australis ),
  • Lupins ( Lupinus nanus ),
  • Siratro ( Macroptilium atropurpureum ),
  • Garden Peas ( Pisum sativum ), and
  • Broad Beans ( Vicia faba ).

    The eggs hatch into slug-like caterpillars. They are off-white with a black head.

    Lampides boeticus
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Manly, New South Wales)

    They feed on the the flowers of the foodplant, and grow to a length of 1 cm.

    Lampides boeticus
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Manly, New South Wales)

    They pupate in a flower, so that when the flower dies, shrivels, and falls to the ground, the pupa falls with it. The pupation period can be about a fortnight, or a year, even for Caterpillars that pupated at the same time!

    Lampides boeticus
    (Photo: courtesy of Jenni Horsnell, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales)

    The adults are dimorphic: the males and females being different. The tops of the wings of the males are blue, whereas those of the females are blue with wide dark brown edges.

    Lampides boeticus
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, South Stradbroke Island, Queensland)

    Underneath, they both have a brown and white pattern. They both have a little tail on each hind wing, 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.

    Lampides boeticus
    Fiji, 1985

    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 and the one territory is used by males year after year. The species is found all over the world, including :

  • Canaries,
  • Hawaii,
  • India,
  • Italy,
  • Philippines,
  • Singapore,
  • Swaziland,

    and of course in Australia including

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.
  • Lampides boeticus
    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),
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 69 (June 2013), pp. 17-23,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Edition 12, Class 5, Tome 1, Part 2 (1767), p. 789, No. 226.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 31 May 2013, 20 September 2013)