Lucia limbaria (Swainson, 1833)
Grassland Copper
(previously known as Polyommatus limbaria)
LUCIINI ,   THECLINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Lucia limbaria
(Photo: courtesy of Lindsay Hunt)

This Caterpillar is green and hairy, with a number of dark longitudinal stripes. It has a black plate on the thorax and on the last abdominal segment. It is usually attended by numerous small black ants of the species :

  • Iridomyrmex gracilis and/or
  • Iridomyrmex rufoniger,

    both in DOLICHODERINAE.

    The caterpillar feeds on various species of Oxalis ( OXALIDACEAE ), including :

  • Indian Sorrel ( Oxalis exilis ), and
  • Creeping Yellow Oxalis ( Oxalis perennans ).

    Initially it just eats the surface of a leaf, but later instars eat the whole leaf. When not feeding, the Caterpillar hides in an ants nest chamber in the soil at the base of the foodplant. The caterpillar grows to a length of about 2 cms.

    Lucia limbaria
    pupae
    (Photo: courtesy of Lindsay Hunt)

    The pupa is initially green, changing to brown as it matures. Its length is about 1 cm. It is formed in the ants nest.

    Lucia limbaria
    (Photo: courtesy of Judy Ormond, Nathalia, Victoria )

    The adults are brown on top with chequered margins. Each fore wing also has a large yellow patch and two black spots.

    Lucia limbaria
    drawing by William John Swainson, listed as Polyommatus limbaria,
    Zoological Illustrations,Series 2, Volume 3, Part 29 (1833), Plate 135,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    Underneath, the fore wings are yellow and the hind wings are pale brown, both with arcs of darker brown spots outlined in white. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms.

    Lucia limbaria
    drawing by William John Swainson, listed as Polyommatus limbaria,
    Zoological Illustrations,Series 2, Volume 3, Part 29 (1833), Plate 135,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    The eggs are pale green and mandarin-shaped. They are laid in groups of a dozen or more and covered in scales. They are usually laid on the upper surface of a lower leaf of a foodplant.

    The species has been found in

  • Queensland,
  • Lord Howe Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.


    Further reading :

    Andrew Atkins, John Moss,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club
    Newsletter, Issue 48 (March 2008), pp. 1, 4-8.

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 627-628.

    Murdoch de Baar,
    Lucia limbaria, the Chequered Copper, some extra notes,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 50 (September 2008), pp. 10-11,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life History Notes on the Grassland or Chequered Copper, Lucia linbaria: Lycaenidae,
    Butterfly and Other Invertebrates Club Newslettter, Issue 49 (June 2008), pp. 14-17.

    William John Swainson,
    Zoological Illustrations,
    Series 2, Volume 3, Part 29 (1833), p. 135, and also Plate 135.


    previous
    back
    caterpillar
    Australian
    Australian Butterflies
    butterflies
    Australian
    home
    caterpillars
    Australian
    Australian Moths
    moths
    next
    next
    caterpillar

    (updated 23 February 2011, 20 September 2013)