A finely-marked, beautiful butterfly of Africa and Asia, the male African babul blue (Azanus jesous) has lilac-blue wings with black margins. The somewhat duller female African babul blue has uniform brown wings with a blue wash. The uppersides of the female wings also have a variable, white, disc-shaped patch, a conspicuous brown spot near the tips, and a black spot near the body. The undersides of the wings on both sexes have broad, straight, white-edged bands on the forewings and a series of white-edged, brown spots on the hindwings (2).
Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae are characterised by banded antennae, a narrow face, and thread-like extensions on the hind wings. The forelegs of the male have fused tips without claws and are smaller than the hind legs, but the forelegs of the females are of equal size and bear claws (3)(4). The African babul blue has a large body relative to its wing size and has a strong flight. The caterpillar is cryptically coloured and has rigid serrations on the upperside (2).
Very little has been documented on the biology of the African babul blue, but it is known to breed continuously between September and April in cooler parts of South Africa, although it may breed year round in warmer parts, with a slight peak in breeding in summer. The female lays the pill-shaped, flat-topped eggs singly on drying lower leaves of Acacia species, where the caterpillar voraciously grazes upon flowers, buds and fresh shoots (2).
Colouration that makes animals difficult to detect against their background. The colouration may provide camouflage against a background or break up the outline of the body. Both can occur in a single animal, and tend to reduce predation.
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