False heads and fluffy tails!

Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘tails’ seen at the end of the hindwings of many butterflies, particularly lycaenids (the ‘blues’), are serving to mimic antennae, and together with eyespots located on the undersides of the hindwings, create the impression of a head. These ‘false heads’ are therefore, a form of reverse mimicry. They serve…

Bright iridescent patches are honest signals!

Males butterflies in the family Lycaenidae, the so-called Blues, typically have brightly coloured, iridescent colours on the upper (dorsal) surfaces of their wings. Vivid blue iridescence such as this on the Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus epicles) shown here, is usually to do with courtship and mate recognition. The brightly coloured, iridescent males rely on so-called, structural colouration (described below), which…

Bluff and deception in Blues

The Longbanded Silverline (Spindasis lohita), Family Lycaenidae, is a beautiful insect with a remarkable structure – a tail, or ‘false head’ – at the end of its hind wing. There is a bright orange tornal patch – the tornus is the posterior corner of the butterfly wing – on both sides of the wing. There is also a…