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Saltbush Blue (Theclinesthes serpentata)

Saltbush Blue

Appearance: Very small. Upperside grey-brown with extended, blue basal suffusion. Underside brown with characteristic, though variable, pattern of white markings and patches. Very similar to the Samphire Blue (Theclinesthes sulpitius).
Wingspan: 1.8 cm
Season: Several generations annually.
Range: All across Australia except for the far north. Not in the arid areas of WA, QLD, and NT.
Habitat: Various habitats, including coastal mudflats, coastal dunes and heathland, open shrubland, woodland.
Photo: Royal NP, NSW, 25/01/2009.

Description

The Saltbush Blue is one of Australia’s smallest butterflies. It can be easily identified by the characteristic pattern of white markings and patches on the underside of the wings. There are several similar species within the genus Theclinesthes, in particular the Samphire Blue (Theclinesthes sulpitius), which can be found mainly along the east coast of Australia and which lacks the more extended white suffusion on the undersite of the hind wings.

The Saltbush Blue lives in a variety of different habitats. In Sydney, for example, it can be found in large numbers on heathland and shrubland along the coast, where the butterflies are usually found flying around shrubs.

Additional Photos

Saltbush Blue
The upperside is grey-brown with more or less extended blue suffusion. (Port Campbell NP, VIC, 25/12/2009)
Saltbush Blue
The underside shows several white and brown patches and bands. (Port Kennedy, WA, 02/12/2012)
Saltbush Blue
The butterflies often rest on exposed branches of shrubs. (Port Campbell NP, VIC, 25/12/2009)
Saltbush Blue
The underside pattern is highly variable. (Port Campbell NP, VIC, 25/12/2009)
Saltbush Blue
Another view of the variable underside. (Menzies, WA, 25/12/2014)