Right on time

It’s become one of my annual rituals.

Each year, post Xmas, I pay a visit to a stand of Silver Wattles near Yandoit.

They are home to a colony of Common Imperial Blue Butterflies Jalmenus evagoras aka the Imperial hairstreak or simply the Imperial blue.

In common with many Australian butterflies this species has a fascinating and complex life history, of which Iridomyrmex ants play a key part. The larvae of this butterfly feed on the foliage of numerous species of acacias, locally I’ve only found them on Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata. The ants live in underground nests and emerge to provide protection for the caterpillars from predators and parasitoids. The reproductive success of the butterfly is significantly improved from this protection, meanwhile the ants profit from supping on sugary secretions produced by the larvae.

On most recent visits to the colony the adult butterflies have kept their wings folded. Yesterday however, was a cool morning and the butterflies were warming up – fully opening their wings to absorb the rays of the sun, displaying the brilliant metallic blue from which J.evagoras gets its common name.

You can learn more about the Common Imperial Blue Butterfly and its life history here and here.

The blog, Life in a Southern Forest, has a terrific story about the behaviour of the butterfly – click here.

IB1

Imperial Blue Butterfly, Yandoit, 7th January 2022

IB2

Mating

IB3

Larva, pupae and ant attendants

IB4

Pupae with cocooning larva at top

IB5

Adult butterfly … showing some wear and tear

IB6

Post mating

IB7

Courtship behaviour

IB8

II

IB9

Mating

IB10

The magnificent Imperial Blue Butterfly

3 responses to “Right on time

  1. Wonderful photos of these beautiful creatures. They Look very imperial .

  2. Mile Creek Rise

    Amazing photos

  3. An excellent post showing the full process. Great job and thanks for sharing Geoff and keep on with the ritual!

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