Erina hyacinthina (Semper, [1879])
Varied Dusky Blue
(previously known as Candalides hyacinthinus)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Erina hyacinthina
(Photo: courtesy of P. and M. Coupar, Museum Victoria)

This species is probably named after the Ancient Greek God: Hyacinthus, or else the flower that is named after him.

The Caterpillars are green with orange patches on segments four and nine. They taper to the rear, and are covered in sparse short white hairs. The caterpillars feed at night on the young shoots of various species of Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha, LAURACEAE ) such as :

  • Devil's Twine ( Cassytha melantha ),
  • Cluster Dodder ( Cassytha muelleri ) and
  • Streaked Dodder Laurel ( Cassytha peninsularis ).

    and grow to a length of about 2 cms. In captivity, they have been found to eat each other, and should be kept separately.

    Erina hyacinthina
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The pupae are a mottled brown, and are flattened with flanges on the abdomen. The pupal length is about 1.3 cms. The pupae are typically attached to the foodplant by anal hooks and girdle.

    Erina hyacinthina
    male, subspecies hyacinthina
    (Photo: Inglburn, New South Wales, courtesy of Martin Purvis)

    The adults have a wingspan of up to 4 cm. In the males, the upper surfaces of the wings are dark bronze. The females are also bronze, but have a substantial area with a blue sheen on each wing.

    Erina hyacinthina
    female, subspecies hyacinthina
    (Photo: Inglburn, New South Wales, courtesy of Martin Purvis)

    The undersides are fawn, with arcs of darker spots. There are two prominent black spots under the tornus of each forewing.

    Erina hyacinthina
    showing underside
    (Photo: courtesy of the late Russell Best and his stewards, Bendigo, Victoria)

    The adults are usually restricted to small areas around the foodplant. The males establish territories which are vigorously defended, and land with wings half open in a state of readiness, an attractive sight when they are freshly emerged.

    Erina hyacinthina
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Sydney, New South Wales)

    The eggs are off-white, round, flattened, and dimpled. The eggs have a diameter of about 0.7 mm. They are laid singly on flower buds and young shoots of a foodplant.

    The species is found down most of the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia, including

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Several races have been proposed :

  • hyacinthina from southern Queensland to Victoria,
  • simplexa (Tepper, 1882) from Victoria to Western Australia, and
  • josephina Harris, 1952, in Victoria, where the other two races overlap.
  • The adults are often confused with those of Erina erinus. One diagnostic difference is that on the underside of the hindwing of Erina hyacintha, the medial and postmedial arcs of dark markings curve in parallel to each other as they approach the hind margin.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 764-766.

    E.J.W. Harris,
    A new race of the Butterfly Candalides hyacinthina Semper Family Lycaenidae,
    North Queensland Naturalist,
    Volume 20 (1952), p. 33.

    Gorg Semper,
    Beitrag zur Rhopalocerenfauna von Australien,
    Journal des Museum Godeffroy,
    Volume 5, Heft 14 (1879) pp. 162-163, No. 78.

    Johann Gottlieb Otto Tepper,
    The Papilionidae of South Australia,
    Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia,
    Volume 4 (1882), p. 30, and also Plate 2, fig. 10.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 9 June 2008, 1 November 2013, 9 July 2020, 6 September 2021)