Hypochrysops elgneri (Waterhouse & Lyell, 1909)
Amethyst Jewel
LUCIINI ,   THECLINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

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

This Caterpillar is initially green, later becoming speckled brown. The tail has a pair of eversible organs, and is marked by a black 'V' mark and two black spots. There are prominent sparse white hairs along the sides.

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

The Caterpillars are always attended by numerous ants from the species :

  • Australian Golden Ant ( Philidris cordatus, DOLICHODERINAE ).

    The young Caterpillars feed openly in the daytime, skeletonising the leaves. Later instars hide in a hollow twig or curled leaf by day, and feed nocturnally, eating large pieces of the leaves. The foodplants include :

  • Billy Goat Plum ( Planchonia careya, LECYTHIDACEAE ),
  • Bald Mistletoe ( Dendrophthoe glabrescens, LORANTHACEAE ),
  • Leichhardt Tree ( Nauclea orientalis, RUBIACEAE ), and
  • Southern Mistletoes ( Notothixos species, SANTALACEAE ).

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

    The pupa is speckled brown and formed in a hollow twig or curled leaf.


    female
    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Entomology)

    The adult male butterflies on top are purple with the upper wings edged in black. Underneath they are pale brown with orange markings outlined in metallic green. The females are brown with an orange patch on top and underneath each forewing, and are brown with grey spots outlined in metallic green under the hindwings. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 4 cms.

    This species is found on

  • New Guinea,

    and in Australia it is found as two subspecies :

  • elgneri, and
  • barnardi Waterhouse, 1934, in Queensland on Cape York, and adjacent islands.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 653-654.

    P.R. Samson,
    The early history of Hypochrysops elgneri barnardi Waterhouse and H. hippuris nebulosis Sands (LEPIDOPTERA: LYCAENIDAE),
    The Australian Entomologist, Vol. 29, Pt. 3 (September 2002), pp. 103-106.

    Gustavus Athol Waterhouse & George Lyell,
    New and Rare Australian Butterflies of the Genus Miletus,
    Victorian Naturalist,
    Volume 26 (1909), pp. 114-115.


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    (updated 23 March 2010)