Hypolycaena danis (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1865)
Black & White Tit
(previously known as Myrina danis)
HYPOLYCAENINI ,   THECLINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Hypolycaena danis
(Photo: courtesy of Mark Hopkinson)

This Caterpillar is off-white to reddish green, sometimes with red bands along the body, and is densely covered in short hairs.

Hypolycaena danis
(Photo: courtesy of Mark Hopkinson)

It is a pest on Orchids ( ORCHIDACEAE ), feeding on the flowers of, for example, the Australian natives :

  • Cooktown Orchid ( Dendrobium bigibbum ), and
  • Teatree Orchid ( Dendrobium canaliculatum ),

    as well as exotic orchids from the genera :

  • Vanda,
  • Cattleya,
  • Renanthera,
  • Phalaenopsis, and
  • Phalaenanthe.

    Hypolycaena danis
    (Photo: courtesy of Mark Hopkinson)

    The pupa is off-white, stout and flattish, held by the tail and central girdle to a stem of the foodplant. It and the caterpillar look remarkably like Orchid flower buds.

    Hypolycaena danis
    female
    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences)

    The adult butterflies have white wings with broad black margins. The margins are broader for the males. The margins of the hindwings of both sexes each have a marginal row of black-centred blue spots. Each hindwing has two tails at the tornus.


    male
    Drawing: Rudolf Felder, listed as Myrina danis,
    Reise der Osterreichischen Fregatte Novara,
    Band 2, Abtheilung 2, Part 2 (1865), pl. 30, fig. 12.

    Underneath, the wings are similar, except all four wings have a marginal row of black-centred blue spots. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 3 cms.

    Hypolycaena danis
    hatched eggshell
    (Photo: courtesy of Mark Hopkinson)

    The eggs are white, spherical, and knobbly. They are typically laid singly on flower petals.

    Various subspecies of this butterfly occur on

  • New Guinea,

    and the subspecies turneri (Waterhouse, 1903) occurs in north Queensland, including :

  • Cairns,
  • Cape York, and
  • Townsville.


    Drawing: Rudolf Felder, listed as Myrina danis,
    Reise der Osterreichischen Fregatte Novara,
    Band 2, Abtheilung 2, Part 2 (1865), pl. 30, fig. 13.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 736-737.

    Baron Cajetan & Rudolf Felder,
    Reise der Osterreichischen Fregatte Novara,
    Band 2, Abtheilung 2, Part 2 (1865), pp. 240-241.


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    (updated 1 September 2012, 11 November 2013)