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Cycad Blue Butterfly

by Vanessa Ting

The Cycad Blue Butterfly (Chilades pandava, also known as the Plains Cupid), is named for two things: the shimmering blue upperside of its wings, and the fact that its larvae feed voraciously on Cycads, Jurassic-era plants that are common fixtures in ornamental landscaping today.

Like other members of the Lycaenidae family, Cycad Blues are big fans of sunlight and have small, slender bodies which allow for quick flight. The bright, metallic colours are due to microscopic grooves on the upper wings, which separate light into different wavelengths. The orange, dark-centred spots on the hindwings are known as 'eyespots', and coupled with the white-tipped 'tails', fool predators into thinking twice about sneaking up on the Cycad Blue.

The larvae of the Cycad Blue have 'honeydew' glands which secret a sugary fluid attractive to ants. As a result, ants will protect the larvae from predators and pests, sometimes even carrying them into their nests as 'guests'!

#butterflies #cycadblue #chiladespandava #tanji #biodiversitymap #invertebrates #insects

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