Large Brown Azure
ARHOPALINI, THECLINAE, LYCAENIDAE, PAPILIONOIDEA
(Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences)
This Caterpillar is off-white, flattened, and corrugated. It has a dark head, and is sparsely covered in stiff hairs. It lives in the nests of various species of Sugar Ants ( FORMICINAE ), including :
feeding on Mistletoe ( LORANTHACEAE ), or if a bushfire destroys its foodplant, then being fed by the ants, or even feeding on immature ants, in the nest it inhabits.
The pupa is pale brown with a length of about 2.5 cms. It is formed in the host ants nest.
The male and female adults have different upper surfaces. The male is plain dark purple with narrow dark margins. The female is bright iridescent blue with broad black margins, and with a white spot near the tip of each fore wing.
Underneath, they are both pale brown, with dark brown splotches, and with a set of black and white bars at the base of each fore wing. Both sexes have black and white chequered margins to the wings. The butterflies have a wing span of about 5 cms.
The eggs are white and round with a diameter of about 1 mm. They are laid singly near the entrance of a suitable ants nest.
The species lives in
A number of races have been proposed, including :
Further reading :
Michael F. Braby,
Butterflies of Australia,
CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 712-714.
William Chapman Hewitson,
Specimen of a Catalogue of Lycaenidae in the British Museum,
1862, p. 2, No. 3, and also Plate 1, figs. 3-4.
(updated 19 November 2012, 22 November 2013)