Zizula hylax (Fabricius, 1775)
Tiny Grass Blue
POLYOMMATINI ,   POLYOMMATINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Zizula hylax
(Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars are green with a dark red line along the back, and light and dark lines partway along the sides. The sides are hairy, and the head pale brown. The Caterpillars grow to a length of about 0.7 cm. They feed inside the fruits of plants, exuding frass from the fruit entrance hole. They usually attack plants in ACANTHACEAE including

  • Karamat ( Hygrophila angustifolia ),
  • Fever Root ( Ruellia tuberosa ),
  • Fairy Stars ( Chaetacanthus setiger ),
  • Papleaf ( Phaulopsis imbricata ),

    but have also been found on

  • Creeping Woodsorrel ( Oxalis corniculata, OXALIDACEAE ).
  • Lantana ( Lantana camara, VERBENACEAE ).

    The pupa is hairy and green, and has a length of about 0.7 cm. It is attached to a stem or the underside of a leaf of a foodplant.

    The adult butterflies on top are dark brown fading to fawn on toward the wing bases, the males having a purple iridescence.

    Zizula hylax
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Royal Botanoic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales)

    Underneath, both sexes are pale grey, with multiple arcs of brown dashes. The butterflies have a wing span of about 1.5 cms.

    The eggs are pale green, round, and flattened, with a diameter of about 0.5 mm. They are laid singly on buds and flowers of a foodplant.

    The species occurs as several races throughout tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia, and Oceania, including :

  • India,
  • Malaysia,
  • Natal,
  • Philippines, and
  • Thailand,

    and the subspecies attenuata (Lucas, 1890) occurs along the north and east coasts of Australia, including

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales, and
  • South Australia.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 841-842.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae (1775), p. 526, No. 351.


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    (updated 25 December 2009, 21 September 2013)