I love all butterflies and, as you know, I raise Monarch Butterflies for release.
When I narrow it down to which one my absolute favourite butterfly is, however, I would have to say "Long-Tailed Blues" (lampides boeticus).
I anticipate your next question - "Why"?
My answers are perhaps not logical, but here they are.
- They're cute - tiny little flicky sweeties.
- They're colourful, yet subtle, with delicate markings.
- They're perky.
- The inside blue of their wings is stunning.
- Their wings almost look fluffy, as if they would be soft if you stroked them.
- Their tiny tails, with a little white dot on the end, are the sweetest.
- They just absolutely appeal to me.
I warned you my reasons would not be logical, because they can apply to so many other butterflies, but there they are.
For some inexplicable reason I see Long-tailed Blues as sweet little cute creatures that I just want to see more of.
Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus)
In New Zealand, long-tailed Blues are self-introduced, naturalised butterflies. They prefer open habitat, although they live wherever larval food plants (particularly various species of legumes including gorse) are growing.
Long-tailed Blue butterflies generally lay their eggs individually on unopened flower buds. When they first hatch, caterpillars are pale yellow, but they quickly turn green or pink-brown. The caterpillars burrow into and eat immature flower buds and seeds. They are opportunists and cannibals, and if they run out of food, they will either pupate early, or eat other caterpillars of their own kind. They are 13-16mm when fully grown. The caterpillars either form chrysalises or pupate inside seed pods. If they pupate in a seed pod, they must wait to emerge until the pod bursts—a wait that can last anywhere between 2 weeks to a year.
Males look fairly different from females, sporting mostly blue upper-wings with brown edges as opposed to the female’s predominately brown wings with blue colouring toward their bodies. Both males and females possess eyespots and tails which they move up and down when resting, creating the appearance of a false head which is thought to distract predators. They usually fly fairly high in the air (over 1m above the ground) and have a rapid, jerky flight pattern. Females generally hang out fairly close to their food plants, while males often venture further away.
Range: They are are found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and various Pacific Islands.
In New Zealand, they typically reside across Northland, and can also be found on the northern South Island, especially around Nelson.
REF: FOREST & BIRD