Imperial Blue


Cycad Blue - Theclinesthes onycha 


This page contains information and pictures about Cycad Blue Butterflies in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Wingspan 30mmm
The butterflies are pale brown in colour with metallic blue or purple sheen. There are the eye patterns of orange and black on the margin of hindwings, each has a little tail attached.
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It is unique that it is the only Australian butterfly Caterpillar that feeds on Cycads. 
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Their Food Plants

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Cycads - Cycas thouarsii, CYCADACEAE 
We took those pictures in Brisbane Botanic Garden in late March 2007. There were four to five Cycad plants there and all of them just the new shots. The Cycads were about 1.5 meter tall.
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There were many small Blue butterflies flying around. Some were laying eggs on the new shots. Above photo shows a butterfly was laying eggs. There were already many eggs around. They are pale white-blue in colour, look like small disks.
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Caterpillar length 10mm 
Carefully checking we also found the caterpillars. They are not moving, hiding under those small leaves. They feed during the night. They are brown to dark brown in colour. Those caterpillars were green in colour when small.  It is unique that it is the only Australian butterfly Caterpillar that feeds on Cycads. The caterpillar of this species is known also attended by ants, however, we did not see any ants attending them on that observation.

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Photo by Eric Chitra                                                                  Photo by Eric Chitra
Our visitor Eric emailed us the above pictures confirmed that the caterpillar of this species is also attended by ants. Those ants look like the Valentine Ants. Eric took those pictures on Nov 2008 in Gold Coast, Suburbia.

1. Theclinesthes onycha - Australian Caterpillars, Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley, 2005.
2. Australian Butterflies - Charles McCubbin, Nelson, Sydney, 1971. p93.
3. The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia - Michael F Braby, Australian National University, CSIRO 2004, p284.

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Last updated: July 20, 2010.