Hypochrysops digglesii (Hewitson, 1874)
Silky Jewel
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Hypochrysops digglesii
(Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

This Caterpillar is dark brown, hairy, and covered in tiny pale dots. It has orange marks on the thorax, and two characteristic pale triangular dorsal patches. It has flattened final abdominal segments. It is always attended by the small black ants :

  • Acrobat Ants ( Crematogaster, MYRMICINAE ).

    Hypochrysops digglesii
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    By day it hides in a curled leaf or under bark, and at night it emerges to feed. Its foodplant is any one of various species of Mistletoe ( LORANTHACEAE) including :

  • Gum Mistletoe ( Amyema bifurcata ),
  • Box Mistletoe ( Amyema miquelii ),
  • Christmas Mistletoe ( Amyema sanguinea ),
  • Bent Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe curvata ),
  • Bald Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe glabrescens ),
  • Yellow Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe homoplastica ),
  • Trumpet Mistletoe ( Loranthus longiflorus ), and
  • Banksia Mistletoe ( Muellerina celastroides ).

    Hypochrysops digglesii       Hypochrysops digglesii
    (Photos: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    It pupates in a sheltered spot. The pupa is brown with a length of about 1.5 cms.

    Hypochrysops digglesii
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The adults are an iridescent turquoise on top, shading to black at the margins.

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

    Underneath, they are pale brown with arcs of brown carets, and under the hindwing : rows of orange spots outlined in black and iridescent green. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms.

    Hypochrysops digglesii
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The eggs are white and flattened, with a width of about 0.7 mm. They are laid in small groups of one to six on or near a foodplant.

    Hypochrysops digglesii
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The species occurs in

  • New Guinea,

    and along the east coast of Australia in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Hypochrysops digglesii
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 658-659.

    Todd Burrows,
    Life history notes on the Silky Jewel Hypochrysops digglesii (Hewitson, 1874) Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 18-19.

    L. Franzen,
    Two rare butterflies,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club Newsletter,
    Issue 30 (September 2003), pp. 18-19.

    William Chapman Hewitson,
    Descriptions of New Species of Lycaenidae from his own Collection,
    Transactions of the Entomological Society of London,
    1874, Part 3, p. 344.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 16 September 2010, 19 July 2020)