Turquoise Jewel (Hypochrysops halyaetus)
Appearance: Small. Male upperside brown with extended iridescent blue suffusion. Female upperside similar, but extent of blue suffusion highly variable. Underside of both sexes orange with large iridescent patches.
Wingspan: 2.5–2.7 cm
Season: 1 generation from July until December.
Range: Western WA. From Exmouth to Perth.
Habitat: Open heath on coastal sand dunes; banksia woodland.
Photo: Male, Koondoola, WA, 23 / 10 / 2011.
This magnificent little butterfly is restricted to western WA from Exmouth in the north to near Perth in the south. The butterflies are found on sandy soils in banksia woodland or coastal heath. There is only one generation every year. While in the northern areas the Turquoise Jewel flies in July and August, the adult butterflies do not emerge before late October in the southern areas near Perth.
Both sexes have the upperside dark brown with iridescent blue suffusion. The extent of the blue suffusion is highly variable in females and can be completely missing, whereas in males the blue colour always extends across most of the wings. The underside shows a unique pattern of pale iridescent patches, making the Turquoise Jewel unmistakable.
The butterflies are often found in large numbers near the ground, where the males usually perch on twigs or leaves. Compared to other species, the Turquoise Jewel is very easy to approach and observe, even in sunny and warm conditions.