Acrodipsas myrmecophila (Waterhouse & Lyell, 1913)
Small Ant Blue
(previously known as Pseudodipsas myrmecophila)
LUCIINI ,   THECLINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Acrodipsas myrmecophila
(Photo: courtesy of Dave Britton, Australian Museum)

These Caterpillars appear to feed by sucking the juices from ant larvae and pupae, living in the nests of :

  • Coconut Ant ( Papyrius nitidus, DOLICHODERINAE ).

    Acrodipsas myrmecophila
    ants tending Acrodipsas myrmecophila eggs
    (Photo: courtesy of Dave Britton, Australian Museum)

    The eggs white, mandarin-shaped, and have a height of about 0.6 mm. They are laid in batches of about 50 near an ant nest at the base of a tree or stump. The ants then appear to extend the nest to cover them. It is possible that the ants also actually feed the Caterpillars. The caterpillars are initially white with black heads and a dark dorsal band. Later they become brown with green and white markings, and have a little knob on the tail. They grow to a length of about 2 cms.

    Acrodipsas myrmecophila
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The caterpillars crawl into a crevice in or near the ant nest in order to pupate. The pupa has a length of about 1 cm.

    Acrodipsas myrmecophila
    Female: upper surface
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)<

    The upper surfaces of the wings of the female adults are dark brown with a large iridescent blue patch in the middle of each wing. The females have a wingspan of about 2.5 cms.

    Acrodipsas myrmecophila
    Male: upper surface
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The males are slightly smaller, having a wingspan of about 2 cms. They are similar in colour to the females, with dark brown on top, but with no blue patch.

    Acrodipsas myrmecophila
    Female: underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The undersurfaces of both sexes are similar: fawn with brown spots edged with white, and with two black and orange spots by the trailing edge of each hind wing.

    The species occurs in

  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales, and
  • Victoria, where it is listed as endangered.

    The conservation of this species has been the subject of study by David Britton and Tim New.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 634-635.

    Gustavus Athol Waterhouse & George Lyell,
    Description of a new Lycaenid butterfly, with notes upon its life-history,
    The Victorian Naturalist,
    Volume 29 (1913), pp. 158-159.


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    (updated 24 May 2009, 12 March 2015)