Philiris innotata (Miskin, 1874)
Purple Moonbeam
(previously known as Pseudodipsas innotatus)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Philiris innotata
(Specimen: courtesy of Helen Schwencke)

This caterpillar is green with a pale yellow dorsal line.

Philiris innotata
(Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

The caterpillar is hairy, rather like the stems and leaves of its foodplants. It feeds on the foliage of various fig trees (MORACEAE), including

  • Banyan ( Ficus benghalensis ),
  • Common Fig ( Ficus carica ),
  • Red-leaf Fig ( Ficus congesta ),
  • Creek Fig ( Ficus coronata ), and
  • Sandpaper Fig ( Ficus opposita ).

    The caterpillar feeds on the underside of a leaf, leaving the upper surface intact. The feeding tracks turn white in due course, which can be a handy guide to locating the caterpillars. The caterpillars are sometimes attended by ants of various species.

    Philiris innotata       Philiris innotata
    (Photos: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The pupa is green with brown patches. It is attached to the underside of a foodplant leaf. The pupa has a length of about 1 cm.

    Philiris innotata
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    On top: the female adult butterflies are iridescent blue with a wide black border around each wing.

    Philiris innotata
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The male butterflies are purple with narrower black borders than the females.

    Philiris innotata
    female, Underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)<

    Underneath: they are a silky grey, with a number of small black spots on each hindwing: three along the tornus, and one on the hind margin.

    Philiris innotata
    male, underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The eggs are white, round, flattened, and deeply pitted, with short spines. The eggs have a diameter of about 0.6 mm. They are laid singly on the underside of leaves of foodplants.

    The species occurs in Australia as the controversial subspecies evinculis Wind & Clench 1947, in

  • north Queensland,

    and as innotata in

  • southern Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    Philiris innotata
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 683-684.

    William Henry Miskin,
    Descriptions of new species of Australian diurnal Lepidoptera,
    Entomologist's Monthly Magazine,
    Volume 11 (1874), p. 165.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 36, 63.

    Donald Peter Andrew Sands,
    Review of Australian Philiris Röber (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), with notes on variation and descriptions of two new subspecies from Cape York peninsula,
    Australian Entomologist,
    Volume 42, Part 4 (2015), pp. 219-252.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 24 June 2008, 27 June 2023)