Ogyris otanes (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1865)
Small Brown Azure
Don Herbison-Evans,
Stella Crossley

Ogyris otanes
(Photo: courtesy of Museums Victoria)

This Caterpillar is white, with black spiracles, and a brown head. It has two flaps, one each side of the tail, which are said to emit a chemical which pacifies the ants. It lives in a nest of any of several species of :

  • Sugar Ants ( eg. Camponotus terebrans, FORMICINAE ).

    It feeds on the shoots and bark of plants in SANTALACEAE such as :

  • Sour Bush ( Choretrum glomeratum ),
  • Spiked Sour-bush ( Choretrum spicatum ), and
  • Currant Bush ( Leptomeria preissiana ).

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 2.5 cms.

    Ogyris otanes
    (Photo: courtesy of Museums Victoria)

    The pupa is pale with a brown dorsal stripe, and has a length of about 1.5 cms. Pupation occurs within the host ants nest.

    Ogyris otanes
    (Photo: courtesy of Museum Victoria)

    > The adults are a purple with a bronze sheen on top, with scalloped wing margins. However, the females also have a broad black band around the margins, and a white patch near the tip of each forewing.

    Ogyris otanes
    (Photo: courtesy of Museums Victoria)

    Underneath, the wings are fawn, with an arc of black spots and a pair of black and white spots under each forewing, looking like a pair of eyes with eyebrows. The butterflies have a wing span of about 4 cms.

    Ogyris otanes
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Big Desert, Victoria)

    The eggs are dome shaped, and grey with a network of white polygonal ribs. The eggs have a diameter of about 1 mm. They are laid in groups of one to four on debris at the base of a foodplant.

    The species has been found in various localities in the southern half of the Australian mainland including

  • the Big Desert in north-western Victoria,
         but its habitat there has been largely destroyed, and so it is now most commonly found on
  • Kangaroo Island and other undisturbed areas in South Australia, and also in
  • Western Australia.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, pp. 710-712.

    Baron Cajetan Felder & Rudolf Felder,
    Zoologischer Theil: Lepidoptera,
    Reise der Osterreichischen Fregatte Novara,
    Band 2, Abtheilung 2, Part 2 (1865), p. 217, and also Plate 28, figs. 1, 2, 3.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 24 May 2011, 21 September 2013, 28 September 2013, 5 August 2020)