Erina erinus (Fabricius, 1775)
Small Dusky-blue
(formerly known as Candalides erinus)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Erina erinus
third instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

This Caterpillar is initially brown and corrugated. Later instars become velvety green with a pair of pale yellow dorsal lines.

Erina erinus
fifth instar
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

The caterpillars feed on various species of Dodder ( LAURACEAE), including :

  • Golden Dodder ( Cassytha aurea ),
  • Common Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha filiformis ), and
  • Downy Dodder ( Cassytha pubescens ).

    The caterpillars normally rest on a stem of their forddplant, and grow to a length of about 1.6 cms.

    Erina erinus

    Erina erinus
    (Photos: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is pale grey or brown, with dark markings, and has flanges on the abdomen. Its length is about 1 cm. It is usually attached to a suitable twig by cremaster and girdle

    Erina erinus
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The male and female adults are similar: dark brown on top with a purple sheen. Underneath, they are fawn with brown markings, including two large spots under the tornus of each forewing. The butterflies have a wing span of about 2 cms.

    Erina erinus
    (Photo: courtesy of Rich Fuller, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The eggs are white, rough, round, and flattened. They are laid singly on young shoots of a foodplant.

    Erina erinus
    egg, highly magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The species occurs on

  • New Guinea,

    and the whole northern half of Australia including

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    The adults are often confused with those of Erina hyacinthina. One diagnostic difference is that on the underside of the hindwing of Erina erinus, the medial and postmedial arcs of dark markings diverge away from each other as they approach the hind margin.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 767-768.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    Flensburgi et Lipsiae (1775), p. 525, No. 348.

    Wesley Jenkinson,
    Life history notes on the Small Dusky-blue, Candalides erinus (Fabricius, 1775) Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 91 (December 2018), pp. 11-14,

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Volume 2 (1869), p. 9, and also Plate 12.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 16 September 2010, 8 July 2020, 6 March 2021)