Brilliant Blue
Junonia rhadama (Boisduval, 1833)

Family: Nymphalidae (Nymphalinae) - Nymphs

Order: Lepidoptera - Butterflies and Moths

Class: Insecta

Phylum: Arthropoda

Kingdom: Animalia

Red List status: Not listed

Brilliant blue, male. Manderano, Tulear Region, Madagascar
Range            Description            Habitat            References
RANGE

Widely-distributed among islands in the Indian Ocean, from Madagascar and the Mascarenes north to the Seychelles. In mainland Africa it has been reported from Malawi and likely occurs in Mozambique.

Other common names: Morpho pansy, royal blue pansy

 

DESCRIPTION

 

A fairly large, dark to metallic blue butterfly when viewed from the upperside, with two white bars at the tip of each forewing and a distinctive pattern of black bars both along and across the wings (see main photo and also here). There is a white rim to the wings. Males possess a single reddish-brown eyespot with a yellow rim on each hindwing, and a less distinct dark-edged blue spot on the forewing, which may be indistinct. In females, these are reddish-brown, and a larger dark brown eyespot is present towards the front of the hindwing, in addition to the yellow-rimmed spots (see photo here) Females also differ in having extensive chocolate-brown areas along the leading edge of the hindwing (in males these are reduced to a patch along the centre of the leading edge, and may be invisible at rest), a dark brown border to the forewing and brighter white markings.

 

The underwings consist of an alternating pattern of wavy whitish and light brown bands, with a thicker, darker brown bar parallel with the edge of the hindwing. Two yellow-edged black eyespots are present within this bar, the larger near the base of the wing and the smaller over halfway up its length. A smaller pale spot connects with this second spot. See an illustration of the underwings here.

 

Similar species: Other blue-winged butterflies are generally considerably smaller and lack brown eyespots, and do not exhibit the characteristic patterning of the brilliant blue. Among similarly-patterned species, the blue pansy (Junonia orithya) is most similar, with bright blue hindwings and red eyespots; however this species has black forewings. Other similar species with blue markings are readily distinguishable in having black or otherwise differently-coloured wings.

 

HABITAT

Lowland, often coastal, areas, where it can occur in abundance. It favours disturbed areas with abundant low vegetation. In Mauritius, adults have been observed to favour flowers of the snake vine Stachytarpheta jamacinensis.

 

REFERENCES

 

Beccaloni, G. (2007) Junonia rhadama, Global Biodiversity Information Facility

Savela, M. Junonia Lepidoptera and some other life forms

Stoddart, D.R. (1984) Biogeography and ecology of the Seychelles Islands: Monographiae Biologicae. Springer: 691 pages

Williams, A.E. (2006) Butterfly observations on Mauritius Island, with notes on three recently introduced lycaenids, Leptomyrina phidias (fabricius), Petrelaea sichela reticulum (mabille) and Chilades pandava (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) Western Australian Insect Study Society Inc., Newsletter February 2006