Jalmenus icilius Hewitson, [1865]
Amethyst Hairstreak
(one synonym : Ialmenus aeneus Tepper, 1882)
ZESIINI,   THECLINAE,   LYCAENIDAE,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans,
(donherbisonevans@yahoo.com)
and
Stella Crossley


caterpillar with attendant ant
(Photo: courtesy of Alice Ewing, Craigieburn, Victoria)

These Caterpillars are a variable dull green, with white diagonal lines on each segment, and white lines along the sides. The caterpillars have a dark grey thorax, and there are pairs of tubercles on the thorax and the tail.

The caterpillars are always attended by the small black ants :

  • Iridomyrmex rufoniger ( DOLICHODERINAE ).

    The caterpillars have been known to feed on a variety of plants, such as :

  • Punty ( Senna nemophila, CAESALPINIACEAE ),
  • Spiny Bitterpea ( Daviesia benthamii, FABACEAE ), and
  • Australian Blackwood ( Acacia melanoxylon, MIMOSACEAE ).

    The caterpillar usually pupates between leaves or in the debris at the base of the foodplant.


    pupa
    (Photo: courtesy of Alice Ewing, Craigieburn, Victoria)

    The pupa is fawn with dark brown speckles. It has a length of about 1 cm.


    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    The adult male and female butterflies look very similar. On top, they are basically dark brown, with a blue iridescent sheen. The females are rather bluer, and have a more rounded margin. The trailing edge of each hindwing has a pair of short tails. Beside one tail is a small black eyespot.


    male
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    Underneath: the butterflies are fawn with faint bands of white-edged darker spots running across the wings. The hindwings each have two black and orange eyespots with black marks between them. The butterflies have a wingspan of about 3 cms.


    female
    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences)

    The eggs are round and flattened with a diameter of about 0.5 mm. They are pale blue and laid in clusters on a foodplant.

    The species occurs across most of mainland Australia, including

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


    male, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 728-729.

    William Chapman Hewitson,
    Lycaenidae,
    Illustrations of Diurnal Lepidoptera,
    London, Volume 2 (1865), p. 54, No. 4, and also Plate 24, fig. 3.


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    (updated 11 July 2004, 21 September 2013, 1 January 2015, 3 August 2020, 25 February 2021)