Varied Hairstreak (Jalmenus inous)
Appearance: Male upperside grey-brown, female upperside orange-brown; both sexes with extended, iridescent, blue suffusion. Underside light brown with characteristic pattern of dark markings. Very similar to the Amethyst Hairstreak (Jalmenus icilius).
Wingspan: 3 cm
Season: 2 overlapping generations from September until February.
Range: Western WA.
Habitat: Heath and Banksia woodland near the coast; open woodland in inland areas.
Photo: Port Kennedy, WA, 01 / 10 / 2011.
The Varied Hairstreak is restricted to western WA, including the west coast, the south coast between Ravensthorpe and Esperance, and a few inland areas in the wheatbelt region. The inland populations form a different subspecies, notocrucifer, and are considered by some authors to be a seperate species, Jalmenus notocrucifer. Another subspecies, bronwynae, was recently described from the Shark Bay area .
Around Perth the Varied Hairstreak is a typical species of coastal heath and Banksia woodland where the larvae feed on the leaves of different Acacia species. The butterflies are usually found in larger numbers around the Acacia shrubs. On warm and sunny days males continuously flutter close to the ground in search of females and only occasionally settle on branches or leaves.
The Varied Hairstreak looks very similar to the Amethyst Hairstreak (Jalmenus icilius) which is more widespread across south-western, central, and south-eastern Australia. The Varied Hairstreak usually has the underside markings much darker and more distinct than the Amethyst Hairstreak, but both species are highly variable, complicating the identification of individual specimens.
- Johnson, S. J. & Valentine, P. S (2007): A new subspecies of Jalmenus inous Hewitson (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) from Shark Bay, Western Australia, Australian Entomologist, 34, p. 77–83