African babul blue (Azanus jesous)

GenusAzanus (1)
SizeMale wingspan: 17 - 26 mm (2)
Female wingspan: 22 - 28 mm (2)

The African babul blue has yet to be assessed by the IUCN.

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). 

The African babul blue occurs throughout most of Africa and Arabia, eastwards to India (5).

Being a widespread species, the African babul blue occurs in a variety of habitats including hillsides, parklands, gardens and coastal areas (2) (6).

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).

It is not known if there are any major threats to the African babul blue.

The African babul has not been the target of any known conservation measures.

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life (January, 2011)
  2. Woodhall, S. (2005) Field Guide to the Butterflies of South Africa. Struik Publishers, South Africa.
  3. Scott, J.A. (1992) The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, California.
  4. - Lycaenidae (January, 2011)
  5. Ormiston, W. (2003) The Butterflies of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services, New Dehli.
  6. Picker, M., Griffiths, C. and Weaving, A. (2004) Field Guide to the Insects of South Africa. Struik Publishers, South Africa.