Cyprotides cyprotus (Olliff, 1886)
Copper Pencil-blue
(previously known as Candalides cyprotus)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Cyprotides cyprotus
(Photo: courtesy of Roger Grund, Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc.)

This Caterpillar is green with pink and blue tubercles each having a black bristle. It has been found feeding on various plants in PROTEACEAE, including :

  • Smokebush ( Conospermum taxifolium ),
  • Comb Grevillea ( Grevillea huegelii ),
  • Grey Spider Flower ( Grevillea bracteosa ),
  • Prickly Spider Flower ( Grevillea juniperina ), and
  • Needlewood ( Hakea leucoptera ),

    and also

  • Dogwood ( Jacksonia scoparia, FABACEAE ).

    The pupa is black with flanges each side of the abdomen, and has a length of about 1.3 cms. It may be found in the debris at the foot of the foodplant.

    Cyprotides cyprotus
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis, Blackheath, New South Wales)

    The female adults are dark brown on top, with a large blue patch near the centre of each forewing. The males are more uniformly purple over both fore and hind wings, with a dark trident mark near the centre of each forewing. Underneath, they both are a pale fawn colour with arcs of brown carets and dots under both fore and hind wings. The butterflies have a wing span of about 3 cms.

    Cyprotides cyprotus
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    The eggs are green, dome-shaped, and covered with a microscopic white polygonal net. Their diameter is about 0.7 mm. They are laid singly on the buds or stalk of a foodplant.

    Cyprotides cyprotus
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Blue Sydney, New South Wales)

    Males are known to 'hilltop', whereas females are more secretive in their habits. Populations are isolated, though common where they occur. The species occurs in Australia as the subspecies :

  • pallescens (Tite, 1963) in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, and
  • cyprotus in southern New South Wales, and Victoria, and South Australia, and Western Australia.
  • This species is anomalous, and has been placed in its own genus Cyprotides by some taxonomists.

    Cyprotides cyprotus
    male, underside
    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 762-763.

    Arthur Sidney Olliff,
    A new butterfly of the family Lycenidae from the Blue Mountains,
    Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales,
    Volume 10, Part 4 (1886), pp. 716-717.

    Gerald Edward Tite,
    A revision of the genus Candalides and allied genera (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae),
    Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology,
    Volume 14, Part 5 (1963), p. 215., No. ii.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 30 July 2009, 21 September 2013, 12 March 2015, 27 July 2020, 5 September 2021)