Plumbago (or Zebra) Blue Leptotes plinius Wingspan: 22 mm - 23 mm
Seen flying: January to April
Larval Food Plants: Flower buds and flowers of Plumbago zeylanica (in Qld) and the introduced garden plant *Plumbago auriculata elsewhere.
This tiny, fast flying butterfly is easy to identify when it settles by its speckled under wings and the small tail on its hindwings. Notice the difference between the female and the male upper wings - the female being speckled and the male blue. It is about the same size as the Common Grass Blue but usually flies higher and feeds on flowers above ground level. We have seen them feeding on the flowers of large Plumbago auriculata shrubs, on Verbena and on the herb, Rosemary.
We first saw these butterflies here in 2016 and were thrilled to get the photo below of a female laying eggs on one of our Plumbago auriculata bushes. We watched her for about an hour flying around the bush laying her eggs on flower buds and bracts.
In April 2016 the hatchlings from the batch of eggs laid earlier in the year on our Plumbago were flying around the garden. We are hoping they will come back next summer, perhaps hibernating in the garden. It was then with great excitement that we witnessed our first two Zebra Blues here in the next summer, in late January 2017.
Larvae are attended occasionally by ants.
Plumbago Blue laying eggs on our Plumbago auriculata, 2 Feb 2016
A female Plumbago Blue showing just a flash of blue adding to its grey and white upper-surface colouring on all four wings, 3 Mar 2017
A male Plumbago Blue showing the blue on its forewings, 3 Mar 2017
The striped underside of a Plumbago Blue is very distinctive, 1 Feb 2016
A male Plumbago Blue - they don't sit with their wings open for very long, 13 Apr 2016
Another male 25 Feb 2018
Plumbago Blue on Plumbago auriculata in Coffs Harbour, 29 Mar 2012
A female Plumbago Blue settled on our exotic Plumbago auriculata, 7 Jan 2018
An egg on our exotic Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata - January 2018
Interesting Facts - 26 Jan 2018 By closely watching Plumbago Blue females settling on our exotic Plumbago auriculata flower heads we were able to finally locate their minute eggs (photo above) and soon followed by larva in two different instars - see 4 photos below.
Larva found 27 Jan 2018 on our exotic Plumbago
Another larva 27 Jan 2018 - measures 4 mm
Note the eating boring into flower buds and larva on leaf 27 Jan 2018
An earlier instar larva, 28 Jan 2018 (measures approx 1 - 1.5 mm)
Last annual autumn sighting - Dorrigo Plateau: Male-04/05/18 Female-05/05/18