Butterfly of the Month - November 2022
The Long-tailed Pea-blue (Lampides boeticus) has a wingspan of only 25mm for the male and 27mm for the female. This little butterfly can be distinguished from other species by the pronounced white band running near the outer hindwing edge on the underside. The bottom corner of the hindwing also shows two black spots surrounded by orange and a thin marking of iridescent blueish-green below, barely visible in our image.
While the dominant colour on the underside of the wings is beige, the upper wing side of the male shows hair like scales of an even purplish blue with narrow darker brown margins at the outer wing edge. The female is similar in colour but has wider brown margins (see our image). A thin tail completes the wing arrangements of this butterfly.
Small mandarin shaped eggs are laid on or near buds and flowers of the host plant. Larvae can range in colour from a very pale green or yellowish green to a pink variety like shown here at the pre-pupal stage. They are occasionally attended by ants. The larvae turn into smooth mottled very light brown (or greenish) pupae.
The immature butterfly’s many host plants belong to the Pea Flower Family (Fabaceae). Crotalaria spp seem to be the preferred food source, but others like Indigofera, Swainsona, Sesbania, Gompholobium spp and many more (including introduced varieties) are being used. The early instar stages feed on the soft tissue of buds and flowers while later instars may also use leaves and stems.
The Long-tailed Pea-blue is widespread and frequents a large variety of habitat types.
Images: CM – Cliff Meyer; PC – Peter Chew