The Varied Dusky Blue ‘breaks the rules’

by Damien Cook

As well as being the season to get out and enjoy the wildflowers, spring is the time when many of our local butterflies emerge. While out enjoying the spring sunshine and flowers on Monday I saw this very fresh looking Varied Dusky Blue butterfly Candalides hyacinthinus hyacinthinus feeding from the abundant blossoms of Fairy Wax-flower Philotheca verrucosa.

Candalides-hyacinthinus-hya

Varied Dusky Blue feeding on Fairy Wax-flower, Spring Gully (Chewton-Fryerstown area).

A digital camera with a good zoom lens is very handy for identifying butterflies, as it isn’t easy to remember the intricate patterns on both the upper and lower wings which is required to separate similar species.

Candalides-hyacinthinus

Varied Dusky Blue – upper wings are very different!

Varied Dusky Blue caterpillars are nocturnal and feed on Dodder Laurel species Cassytha melantha and C. pubescens, which are parasitic plants with twining stems that sometimes form messy curtains that hang from their host plants. The caterpillars pupate in Autumn and the adult butterflies emerge from September until the summer months. Unlike many of the other Lycaendis, or Blues, the larvae and pupae are generally not attended by symbiotic ants.

Cassytha-melantha,-Spring-G

Dodder Laurel – Cassytha melantha

Cassytha-melantha

This Dodder Laurel has formed a sprawling mass – have you seen this plant and wondered?

Ed.note: Dodder Laurels can be found locally in the Newstead bush, so watch out for the Varied Dusky Blue. I’ve allowed a violation of my usual ’15 km from Newstead rule’ in this case!

Thanks Damien for a terrific observation and story.

One response to “The Varied Dusky Blue ‘breaks the rules’

  1. Hi Geoff,
    lovely shots and story ,I got out the” Bible” Charles McCubbin’s
    Australian Butterflies and according to that book the common dusky blue
    is Erina h. hyacintha…..?
    Loving every post.
    Cheers Andy
    Ps The new “L.B.J” …. little blue jobs!

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