Paralucia pyrodiscus (Doubleday, 1847)
Eltham or Fiery or Dull Copper
(one synonym : Chrysophanus aenea Miskin, 1890)
LUCIINI ,   THECLINAE ,   LYCAENIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Paralucia pyrodiscus
(Photo: courtesy of M. and P. Coupar, Museum Victoria)

These Caterpillars are an endangered species in some parts of Australia. They feed on the leaves of various plants from the Pittosporum family ( PITTOSPORACEAE ) :

  • Prickly Box ( Bursaria incana ),
  • Sweet Bursaria ( Bursaria spinosa ), and
  • Prickly Pittosporum ( Pittosporum spinescens ).

    They are attended by ants of the genus :

  • Notoncus ( FORMICINAE ).

    The Caterpillars feed nocturnally, resting by day in the ant nest at the foot of the foodplant.

    Paralucia pyrodiscus
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The adult butterflies upper surfaces are brown with a yellow patch on each wing. Underneath they are paler with dark zigzag lines. The butterflies have wingspans up to about 3 cms.

    Paralucia pyrodiscus
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The eggs are white and cylindrical, with a pit in th top. Their height is about 1 mm. They are laid in loose clusters of one to a dozen on or near the base of a foodplant bush.

    The species is common in

  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales,
    but only survives in a few pockets of
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Two races have been recognised :

  • lucida Crosby, 1951, and
  • pyrodiscus,
  • although the variation seen in the butterflies may just be a climatic adaptation.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 642-644.

    Edward Doubleday,
    Lycaenidae, List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 2 (1847), p. 57.


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    (updated 29 June 2012, 22 November 2013)