Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
© David Fischer
genus Jalmenus comprises of 11 species,
all of which are endemic to Australia. The uppersides of most
species are metallic silvery-blue, with broad suffused blackish
margins, and a pair of small orange or red patches near the tail of
the hindwing. In one species eichorni
the blue colouration is replaced by metallic green. The undersides
vary, some like evagoras having black
markings while in others such as lithochroa
and icilius the markings are very pale
is found in southern Queensland, Canberra, New South Wales and
This species inhabits open
Acacia scrub and semi-desert habitats.
The eggs are white
or pale yellow and are laid in neat rows on stems of
Acacia bushes. Immediately after
hatching the caterpillars wander until they find an ant trail. They
follow this until they locate a cluster of older caterpillars, which
always have Iridomyrmex ants in
Ants are beneficial to the larvae because they drive away predatory
insects and parasitoid wasps that might otherwise attack them.
Iridomyrmex ants have been observed
actively defending Jalmenus
caterpillars from attack by predators including spiders, mantises,
Myrmecia jumper ants and
The larvae have a series of spiky dorsal tubercles, and are dark
green with an orange dorsal stripe and marbled with lighter tones.
They live within a communal web on a small
Acacia bush, emerging to feed periodically.
The pupae are black with orange bands between the segments, and are
formed in clusters attached to twigs. The pupae are also attended by
Iridomyrmex ants. Experiments have
that in cases where ants have been denied access to the pupae the
latter have suffered up to 95% parasitism by the Chalcid wasp
Brachymeria reginia. Conversely, pupae
attended by the ants experienced zero parasitism.
Larvae and pupae have been shown able to communicate with ants using
visual, audio and chemical signals which are used to appease the
ants, which would otherwise attack and kill them.
Males aggregate in clusters of up to 20
individuals around the pupae of females on
Both sexes nectar at Asteraceae and various flowering bushes and
© David Fischer