Candalides hyacinthinus (Semper, [1879])
Varied Dusky Blue
(previously known as Holochila hyacinthina)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Candalides hyacinthinus
(Photo: courtesy of P. and M. Coupar, Museum Victoria)

This species is probably named after the Ancient Greek God: Hyacinthus, or else the flower that is named after him.

The Caterpillars are green with orange patches on segments four and nine. They taper to the rear, and are covered in sparse short white hairs. The Caterpillars feed at night on the young shoots of various species of Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha, LAURACEAE ) such as :

  • Devil's Twine ( Cassytha melantha ),
  • Cluster Dodder ( Cassytha muelleri ) and
  • Streaked Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha peninsularis ).

    and grow to a length of about 2 cms. In captivity, they have been found to eat each other, and should be kept separately.

    Candalides hyacinthinus
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The pupae are a mottled brown, and are flattened with flanges on the abdomen. The pupal length is about 1.3 cms. The pupae are typically attached to the foodplant by anal hooks and girdle.

    Candalides hyacinthinus
    male, subspecies hyacinthinus
    (Photo: Inglburn, New South Wales, courtesy of Martin Purvis)

    The adults have a wingspan of up to 4 cm. In the males, the upper surfaces of the wings are dark bronze. The females are also bronze, but have a substantial area with a blue sheen on each wing.

    Candalides hyacinthinus
    female, subspecies hyacinthinus
    (Photo: Inglburn, New South Wales, courtesy of Martin Purvis)

    The undersides are fawn, with arcs of darker spots. There are two prominent black spots under the tornus of each forewing.

    The eggs are very pale green, round, and flattened, with a diameter of about 0.7 mm. They are laid singly on flower buds and young shoots of a foodplant.

    The adults are usually restricted to small areas around the foodplant. The males establish territories which are vigorously defended, and land with wings half open in a state of readiness, an attractive sight when they are freshly emerged.

    Candalides hyacinthinus
    showing underside
    (Photo: courtesy of the late Russell Best and his stewards, Bendigo, Victoria)

    The species is found down most of the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia, including

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Several races have been proposed :

  • hyacinthinus from southern Queensland to Victoria,
  • simplexa (Tepper, 1882) from Victoria to Western Australia, and
  • josephina Harris, 1952, in Victoria, where the other two races overlap.
  • The adults are often confused with those of Candalides erinus. One diagnostic difference is that on the underside of the hindwing of Candalides hyacinthus, the medial and postmedial arcs of dark markings curve in parallel to each other as they approach the hind margin.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 764-766.

    E.J.W. Harris,
    A new race of the Butterfly Candalides hyacinthina Semper Family Lycaenidae,
    North Queensland Naturalist,
    Volume 20 (1952), p. 33.

    Gorg Semper,
    Beitrag zur Rhopalocerenfauna von Australien,
    Journal des Museum Godeffroy,
    Volume 5, Heft 14 (1879) pp. 162-163, No. 78.

    Johann Gottlieb Otto Tepper,
    The Papilionidae of South Australia,
    Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia,
    Volume 4 (1882), p. 30, and also Plate 2, fig. 10.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 9 June 2008, 23 December 2023)