Desert babul blue (Azanus ubaldus)

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Desert babul blue fact file

Desert babul blue description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyLycaenidae
GenusAzanus (1)

A finely-marked, beautiful butterfly of Africa and Asia, the male desert babul blue (Azanus ubaldus) has iridescent blue upperparts with delicate, streaked, white markings and the female has uniform dark brown upperparts (2) (3). The undersides on both sexes are whitish with brown bands and spots, and with blackish lunules (crescent shaped markings) on the underside of the hind wings. The male desert babul blue also has a narrow, pointed forewing with a velvety blue patch on the upperside (2)

Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae are characterised by banded antennae, indented eyes, a narrow face, and thread-like extensions on the hind wings. The forelegs of the males have fused tips without claws and are smaller than the hind legs, but are of equal size on the females, with claws (3) (4). The desert babul blue has a large body relative to its wing size and has a strong flight, sitting with the wings open whilst at rest (5). The caterpillar is slug-like in appearance (5), being cryptically coloured and having rigid serrations on the upperside (2)

Also known as
bright babul blue, velvet spotted blue.
Size
Male wingspan: 16 - 23 mm (2)
Female wingspan: 18 - 21 mm (2)
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Desert babul blue biology

Very little has been documented on the biology of the desert babul blue, but it is known to breed continuously between September and April in South Africa, with the female laying the pill-shaped, flat-topped eggs singly on drying lower leaves of vegetation. The caterpillar encases itself within a nest of leaves bound by silk, with young caterpillars eating the upperside of leaves and older caterpillars also eating stems (2)

The desert babul blue flies rapidly around the sides of trees and above muddy puddles, settling on exposed branches around 10 feet off the ground (5).

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Desert babul blue range

A wide-ranging butterfly, the desert babul blue is found across southern and eastern Africa, as well as Senegal and Tunisia in western Africa, Arabia, India and Sri Lanka (2) (5).

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Desert babul blue habitat

The desert babul blue inhabits arid areas including open plains and hillsides (2).

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Desert babul blue status

The desert babul blue has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

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Desert babul blue threats

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

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Desert babul blue conservation

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

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
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Authentication

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:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Cryptic colouration (crypsis)
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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References

  1. Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life (January, 2011)  
    http://www.catalogueoflife.org/
  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. BugGuide.net - Lycaenidae (January, 2010)
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/194
  5. Ormiston, W. (2003) The Butterflies of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services, New Dehli.
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Image credit

Desert babul blue profile  
Desert babul blue profile

© Marc Bulte

Marc Bulte
marcbulte@gmail.com
http://www.pbase.com/mbulte

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