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Varied Hairstreak (Jalmenus inous)

Varied Hairstreak

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.

Description

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 [1].

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.

Additional Photos

Varied Hairstreak
The upperside (here of a male) is grey-brown with extended, iridescent, blue suffusion. (Port Kennedy, WA, 03/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
The female upperside looks similar, the colour being orange-brown rather than grey-brown. (Port Kennedy, WA, 23/01/2011)
Varied Hairstreak
The underside (here of a male) shows a characteristic pattern of dark markings. (Port Kennedy, WA, 03/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
The underside pattern (here of a female) is highly variable. (Port Kennedy, WA, 03/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
Depending on viewing angle, the iridescent suffusion on the upperside can be very prominent... (Port Kennedy, WA, 03/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
...or almost invisible. (Port Kennedy, WA, 03/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
This female is laying her eggs onto the larval food plant. (Port Kennedy, WA, 16/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
The tiny white eggs are attached to leaves of the larval food plant. (Port Kennedy, WA, 16/10/2010)
Varied Hairstreak
Two more photos... (Port Kennedy, WA, 23/01/2011)
Varied Hairstreak
...of the variable underside. (Port Kennedy, WA, 23/01/2011)

References

  1. 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