Pseudalmenus chlorinda (Blanchard, [1848])
Silky Hairstreak
(one synonym : Ialmenus myrsilus Westwood, 1851)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Pseudalmenus chlorinda
(Photo: courtesy of Elaine McDonald, Tinderbox, Tasmania)

These Caterpillars are dark brown, with red, black and pale yellow markings, and a black head. They are always found in association with the venomous ants :

  • Anonychomyrma biconvexa ( DOLICHODERINAE ).

    The caterpillars feed on various Wattles ( MIMOSACEAE ), including :

  • Silver Wattle ( Acacia dealbata ),
  • Bark Wattle ( Acacia decurrens ),
  • Cedar Wattle ( Acacia elata )
  • Late Black Wattle ( Acacia mearnsii ),
  • Blackwood, ( Acacia melanoxylon ),
  • Blunt Leaf Wattle ( Acacia obtusifolia ),
  • Tumut Wattle ( Acacia pravissima ),
  • Sunshine Wattle ( Acacia terminalis ), and
  • Golden Feather Wattle ( Acacia trachyphloia ).

    The caterpillars grow to a length of about 3 cms.

    Pseudalmenus chlorinda
    (Photo: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The pupa is shiny black, and develops under bark or in a crevice. It too is visited by ants. The pupal period was from January to the following December.

    Pseudalmenus chlorinda
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The male and female adults are similar, except that the wings of the female are more rounded. The fore and hind wings are black or dark brown on top, with a white margin, and an orange mark in the middle of each wing, The hind edge of the orange mark has a black border. The hindwings also each have scarlet border by the tail at the tornus.

    Pseudalmenus chlorinda
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The undersides are bluish grey, with each forewing marked by a black margin, black discal spot and a black outer line. The hind wings underneath have black markings and a scarlet border. The wingspan is about 3 cms.

    Pseudalmenus chlorinda
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The eggs are pale green, dome-shaped, and covered in a triangular network of white ribs. The eggs have a diameter of about 1 mm. They are usually laid in small groups (up to five) on twigs of a young foodplat.

    Pseudalmenus chlorinda
    ( Australia Post, 1981)

    A number of different races of this species have been recognised, occurring in small pockets in the south east corner of Australia, from New South Wales to Tasmania, including:

  • barringtonensis Waterhouse, 1928, in northern New South Wales,
  • chloris Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales,
  • zephyrus Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, mainly in Victoria,
  • fisheri Tindale, 1953, in western Victoria,
  • chlorinda in eastern Tasmania,
  • conara Couchman, 1965, in central Tasmania, and
  • myrsilus Westwood, 1851, in south-eastern Tasmania,
  • although the status of some is controversial.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 732-734.

    Charles Émile Blanchard,
    Description des Insectes,
    Voyage au Pôle Sud et dans l'Océanie sur les Corvettes l'Astrolabe et la Zélée,
    Tome 4 (1853), pp. 401-402, and also Plate 3, figs. 15-18.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 6 May 2009, 23 November 2013, 24 May 2019)