Zizina labradus (Godart, [1834])
Common Grass Blue
(often misidentified as Zizina otis)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Zizina labradus
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

These Caterpillars begin life as single bluish toroidal eggs. These are laid on the leaves of a foodplant, which can be various members of FABACEAE, such as:

  • Emu Foot ( Cullen tenax ),
  • Australian Indigo ( Indigofera australis ),
  • Lucerne ( Medicago sativa ),
  • Glycine ( Neonotonia wightii ),
  • Beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ),
  • Garden Peas ( Pisum sativum ), and
  • Clover ( Trifolium species).

    In summer in Melbourne, eggs that we collected hatched in three days from being laid.

    Zizina labradus
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The Caterpillars themselves are green slug-like creatures, with short white hairs, and a thin yellow stripe along each side of the body, and a darker green line down the back. The head is brown or black, although it is normally cannot be seen as the Caterpillar holds it tucked under the thorax. The Caterpillars grow to a length of 0.7 cms. This makes them hard to find, especially as they rest by day at the base of the foodplant.

    Zizina labradus
    (Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The pupa is dirty pink, pale green, or pale yellow, with dark markings, and is attached to the undersurface of a leaf of its foodplant by tail and girdle.

    Zizina labradus
    (Photo: courtesy of Edwin Vella, Yarramundi, New South Wales)

    The adult has a black body and the upper surfaces of the wings are purplish blue with a black termen.

    Zizina labradus
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The undersides are greyish blue with a fawn pattern of spots and stripes. The adults have a wingspan of about 2 cms. They normally fly very close to the ground.

    Zizina labradus
    close-up, showing white spot on the antenna club
    (Photo: courtesy of Harold McQueen, Goodna, Queensland)

    The butterflies have an interesting white spot on the club of the antenna.

    Zizina labradus
    mating pair
    (Photo: courtesy of Tony Rodd)

    The species is found over most of Australia, including:

  • Queensland,
  • Lord Howe Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.
    The subspecies labdalon Waterhouse & Lyell, 1914, occurs on
  • Cape York.

    Zizina labradus
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 837-838.

    Kelvyn L. Dunn,
    New and overlooked distribution records for the Common Grass Bluee, Zizina otis labradus (Godart) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae), in eastern Australia,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 72 (March 2014), pp. 18-26,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Jean Baptiste Godart,
    Histoire naturelle Entomologie,
    Encyclopédie Méthodique,
    Volume 9, Part 2 (1874), p. 612, No. 197, and also p. 680, No. 197.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 1 May 2010, 9 February 2018)