Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grass Jewel

 Grass Jewel
(Family Lycaenidae: Blues)

After introducing you all to two of very common birds found around human habitation now it's time to get familiar to the tiniest ( Wingspan - 15 - 22mm) of the butterflies - Grass Jewel

- Description

  • Male Upperside - Brown but varies coloration in dry areas and humid areas. the coloration in Dry areas is much paler as compared to that of humid areas. Forewing are uniform with a very ill - defined anticiliary dark line in some specimens. Hindwings have a subterminal series of round black spots crowned with pale Ochraceous ( Pale Yellow or Orange), the posterior four spots generally well defined and outwardly edged with white.

  • Male Underside - Pale silky brown. Forewing consists of following white markings: - a short line on the inner and outer sides of the discocellulars ; a transverse, slightly curved, discal series of small, more or less incomplete rings; a transverse postdiscal series of disconnected slender lunules; a subterminal series of similar but more regular lunules and a terminal broken line, followed by a dark unbroken anticiliary line; the groundcolour between the two short discocellar lines, that enclosed within each ring of the discal markings, and between the sub-terminal lunules and the terminal line slightly darker than on the rest of the wing. 

  • Female upperside and undersides : ground-colour and markings as in the male, but the latter larger and more clearly defined; on the hind wing the yellow crowning the black spots on the tornal area on the upperside and surrounding the same on the underside, wider and more prominent. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen as in the male.

  • Habits - A unique habit which at once distinguishes this species from all other Blues, is the way in which it moves it's wings. As soon as it settles after a flight, it sways all it's four wings from side to side, and then slows down and finally sits still. it's flight is weak, fluttering and in short bouts; it remains within half a meter from the ground and settles often. The male occasionally basks with their wings half open. Other then small herbs and flowers the male also feeds on wet soil where they may assemble in a small group.

  • Reproduction - The female lays it's eggs singly among the bracts of flower-buds. It bends it's abdomen and reaches deep, into the base of the bract, to lay eggs. (Please refer the image given above). The egg is disc-shaped and has fine, smooth, microscopic reticulations on it, which forms irregular polygons. the color of egg is glassy green with a blue tinge. The caterpillar stays hidden among the bracts and buds ad feeds on them. The Caterpillar is green or brown with dorsal and subdorsal longitudinal lines on the body.  Pupation takes place close to where the caterpillar fed, as the dense bracts provide good shelter.

  • Larval Host Plants -  The host plants are varied and since this is a wide-ranging butterfly, there are likely to be many more as yet unreported species. The recorded host plants include: Hygrophila Auriculata ( Sanskrit - Kokilaksha, Hindi - Talimakhana), Lantana Camara ( Sanskrit - chaturangi, Marathi - Ghaneri, Hindi - Khaneri).