Rapala varuna (Horsfield, 1829)
Indigo Flash
(previously known as Thecla varuna)
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Rapala varuna
(Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

These Caterpillars are yellow or green, with a dark dorsal line, and pink or white lines on each side. It has four knobs on each segment with an orange tip bearing stiff hairs.

Rapala varuna
(Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

The Caterpillars grow to a length of about 2 cms. They feed on the flowers and shoots of various species of plants, including :

  • Red Ash ( Alphitonia excelsa, RHAMNACEAE ),
  • Millaa Millaa ( Elaeagnus triflora, ELAEAGNACEAE ),
  • Horse Bush ( Dendrolobium umbellatum, FABACEAE ),
  • Pongam ( Pongamia pinnata, FABACEAE ),
  • Siris ( Albizia lebbeck, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Branched Wattle ( Acacia polystachya, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Loquat ( Eriobotrya japonica, ROSACEAE ), and
  • Lychee ( Litchi chinensis, SAPINDACEAE ).

    Rapala varuna       Rapala varuna
    (Photos: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The pupa is brown with darker markings, and is covered in short hairs. Its length is just over 1 cm. It is formed in debris at the foot of a foodplant.

    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The adult male butterflies are dark purple on top.

    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Burrows, Tweed heads)

    The females are mauve, darkening towards the margin.

    (Photo: courtesy of Chris Barnes, Bundaberg)

    Underneath, both sexes are pale brown, and the wings each have a diagonal darker brown line, often outlined in white. Both sexes of the adult butterfliy have two tails near the tornus of each hind wing: one tail is thin and the other is knobbly. The undersides have a black spot beside each tail. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms.

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

    The eggs are pale blue-green and round, with a diameter of about 0.5 cm. They are laid singly on flower buds or young shoots of a foodplant.

    female underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Bob Miller and Ian Hill)

    The species occurs as several races across south-east Asia, including

  • India,
  • Philippines,
  • Taiwan,
  • Thailand,

    and as simsoni (Miskin, 1874) in Australia along the coast of

  • Queensland.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 738-738.

    Thomas Horsfield,
    Descriptive Catalogue of the Lepidopterous Insects contained in the Museum of the Horourable East-India Company,
    Volume 2 (1829), pp. 91-92, No. 24.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 7 May 2012, 23 November 2013)