Patrician Blue

Lepidochrysops patricia

With a wingspan of 4.5cm, the Patrician Blue is one of the largest members of the family. Patrician Blues are rare in the Western Cape and occurs only in the eastern-most reaches of the Northern Cape, but otherwise occur commonly all over our seven other provinces. They have a wide habitat tolerance, occurring from mountain grasslands to the edges of forests but are most common in savannas. Adults are only seen between spring and autumn, reaching a peak in numbers in November and December.

Like other butterflies of the genus Lepidochrysops the Patrician Blue employs a most interesting breeding strategy. Their larvae feed on the immature seeds of Salvia– and Lantana plant species in their first two developmental stages and then exude a pheromone that prompts Carpenter Ants (Camponotus spp.) to carry the caterpillars into their nests, where they feed on the larvae of the ants until they pupate. After emerging from the chrysalis the adult butterfly then crawls out of the ants’ nest.


20 thoughts on “Patrician Blue

  1. naturebackin

    How interesting – I had not heard of that butterfly – ant connection before. Amongst the blue butterflies visiting here I must look out for this larger species – we certainly have more than enough invasive alien lantanas in the margins of the neighbouring plantation!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. blhphotoblog

    Beauty! It is as big as our Large Blue (Phengaris arion) which also uses the ant method but with just one species of red ant (Myrmica sabuleti). The Large Blue became extinct in the UK in ’79 but when the relationship with the ant was fully understood and conditions perfected it was re-introduced and is now thriving in sw England.

    Liked by 1 person


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