Currently viewing the category: "Gossamer Wings"
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Subject: Larva? Worm?
Location: South Africa Pretoria
December 28, 2012 9:01 am
Hello, i have difficulty identifying this insect and do not seem to find any information on it if can you kindly help me it will be of great help.
Signature: summer

Common Fig Tree Blue Caterpillar

Dear summer,
The best we can do without any research is that this is a Caterpillar, and we are not even certain if it will become a butterfly or moth though if we had to wager a guess, our first inclination is that it might be the caterpillar of a Slug Moth in the family Limacodidae.  Prior to any research, we are hoping to get additional information from you.  Where was it found?  What plant was it feeding upon?  When did you find it?  Please supply us with additional information which should aid our research.

Common Fig Tree Blue Caterpillar

Hello Daniel,
It feeds mainly on the growth points of the Ficus burkei and F.natalensis and have seen some leave damage but not that much and during the day they hide under the leaves and they are active at night, the location of it is in South Africa Pretoria or the highveld region thanks for the reply much appreciated
Regards, Marco

Update January 17, 2013:  Metamorphosis
Hello Daniel,
The caterpillar turned into this moth shocking to think such a strange caterpillar turns into a beautiful moth.
Kind regards

Common Fig Tree Blue

Hi Marco,
Thanks so much for the update.  We never expected this.  Our initial thought is that this must be a Skipper in the family Hesperidae, but the caterpillar looks more like a Gossamer Winged Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.  Alas, our initial searches produced nothing and now we have no more time this morning to research this, but perhaps one of our readers will have some idea.

Karl identifies the Fig Tree Blue
Hi Daniel and Summer:
Like you, Daniel, I thought this was probably a Lycaenidae butterfly when the caterpillar was initially posted, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up. With this update posting I can say that I am fairly certain that it is a variety of Hairstreak or Strong Blue (Lycaenidae: Theclinae) in the genus Myrina. According to the African Butterfly Database the genus consists of only five genera, two of which (including three subspecies) occur in South Africa; the Lesser or Scarce Fig-tree Blue (Myrina dermaptera), and the Common Fig-tree Blue (Myrina silenus). The Common Fig-tree Blue looks like a closer match to me, and the caterpillar is a very good match as well. It really is a lovely butterfly. The “Field Guide: Butterflies of Southern Africa” has some good information about both species (page 182). Regards.  Karl

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Subject: Butterfly ID
Location: St Petersburg, Florida
November 10, 2012 1:35 pm
I came across your website while researching a butterfly. Yesterday in St Petersburg Florida I took a couple of shots of a small blue butterfly and have searched the web for an ID. It looks to me to be a Miami Blue but I’m not expert on butterflies and was wondering if you could confirm or correct me on what this is. I only got two fairly decent shots of it and here are the links in case the photos are too big to upload.
Signature: S. Hunter Spenceley

Cassius Blue

Dear S. Hunter,
The Blues can be a very difficult group to correctly identify to the species level.  According to BugGuide, the Miami Blue is “Only known US colony is Bahia Honda SP in the Keys. Also in the WI and Cuba.”
We believe you encountered a Cassius Blue, Leptotes cassius, based on photos posted to BugGuide where it is described as:  “Below, ‘zebra-striped’ pattern and two dark spots on the hind wing, rimmed with orange, are distinctive.
Above, male is purple-blue with a thin black border and white wing fringe, and a faint dark marginal spot on the hind wing. Female is light blue with a broad gray border and two dark marginal wing spots on the hind wing.”

Cassius Blue

Thank you very much for the response.  I looked at the link to BugGuide and the Leptotes looks just like it so I believe it is the Cassius Blue.
Thanks again!

Hi again Hunter,
Like we stated earlier, the Blues are a difficult group to identify.  There were many similarities between your photos of the Cassius Blue and the Miami Blue.  Drilling down to the range produced the doubt that eventually led us to the Cassius Blue as the most likely candidate.

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Subject: Two headed butterfly
Location: Cozumel island, Mexico
August 29, 2012 10:37 pm
Hi guys,
I photographied this butterfly on Cozumel island, Mexico on january 17th, 5 years ago. I found it on low tropical forest.
Can you help me to identify it?
Thank you very much, in advanced.
Best wishes.
Signature: Cristopher Gonzalez


Hi Christopher,
This little beauty is one of the Hairstreaks in the subfamily Theclinae.  We doubt this species is represented on BugGuide, but we haven’t the time to research the species right now.  We wish your photo did not crop out the antennae, but perhaps you cropped them in post production and you are able to resend the original digital file so we can format it.  Your photo does show the protective mimicry the butterflies in this subfamily exhibit.  A predator might make a grab for the dominant face on the right of your photo and find itself with a mouth full of wing while the Gossamer Winged beauty flies away. 

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Subject: Butterflies – Siskiyou/Cascade Mtn.
Location: Southern Oregon
August 9, 2012 11:43 am
Here are three butterflies I hope you can identify taken a couple weeks ago. Are they all blues?
Signature: TerryDarc

Lycaean Blue

Dear TerryDarc,
Yes, all of your butterflies are Lycaean Blues, and furthermore, we suspect since they were all flying at the same time in the same vicinity, they might all be the same species.

Female Lycaean Blue

The individual with the brown wings is a female.  Many of the Blues have pronounced sexual dimorphism with blue males and brown females.  In our opinion, two likely candidates for species are Boisduval’s Blue, Plebejus icarioides, which can be found represented on BugGuide, and the Greenish Blue, Plebejus saepiolus, which can also be found on BugGuide.  It is also worth noting that there are many subspecies and local variations in coloration among the Blues.  BugGuide notes:  “A varied group, and several species can be confusingly similar.”  The Thumbnails on the Butterflies of Americawebsite might help to determine the species.

Lycaean Blue

Thank you very much, Daniel!



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Subject: Tiger Swallowtail?
Location: Southern Oregon
July 14, 2012 2:04 pm
Found these on the side of Mt. Ashland, Siskiyou Mtns. yesterday at about 5000’ elev. One’s a bit different than other tiger swallowtails in color and maybe a bit smaller.
The other is a blue, but what sort?
Signature: TerryDarc

Anise Swallowtail

Hi TerryDarc,
We were uncertain at first if this was an Anise Swallowtail,
Papilio zelicaon, or an Old World Swallowtail, Papilio machaon, because they look so similar.  To further complicate matters, both species have dark and yellow forms.  We learned in Jeffrey Glassberg’s book Butterflies Through Binoculars, the West, that the Anise Swallowtail can be distinguished from other similar looking swallowtails because of the “black spot at HW outer angle is small and centered” within the orange spot.  This was verified on BugGuide which states:  “Upper surface of hindwing has yellow-orange eyespot near tail with round black center that is not connected to hindwing margin.”  We are uncertain of the identity of the Blue, but perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply an answer.  We suspect it is either an Azure (see BugGuide) or one of the Arctic Blues (see BugGuide).  Your photos are both quite lovely and detailed.

What’s That Blue???

Thanks, Daniel.
If by Old World Swallowtail is meant Europe or such, then this was an Anise Swallowtail b/c the picture was taken in southern Oregon. I am clueless about the blues but I know there are a bunch of them.
Thanks for the kind words about the photos. My wife says they’re already posted to Thanks so much for id’ing these two. Great site!

Hi again Terry,
The Old World Swallowtail is established in western North America, but it is originally from Eurasia.

Thanks! I guess I never thought about someone importing butterflies. BTW – I made a donation to WTB. You guys deserve it!

Hi again Terry,
We are not certain how the Old World Swallowtail was introduced to the New World.  We suspect it was an accidental introduction on plants that were brought from Europe to grow on American soil.  That was very kind of you to make a donation.  See these BugGuide categories for the subspecies of the Old World Swallowtail and the Anise Swallowtail.
Papilio machaon bairdii – Baird’s Swallowtail
Subspecies Papilio machaon oregonius – Oregon Swallowtail
Subspecies Papilio zelicaon nitra – Anise Swallowtail
Papilio zelicaon zelicaon – Anise Swallowtail

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Subject: small blue moth (?)
Location: central washington
May 25, 2012 5:44 pm
around our cattle watering trough there are many of these…
Signature: gentry


Hi gentry,
This lovely little Lycaean Blue might be Boisduval’s Blue,
Plebejus icarioides, or Anna’s Blue, Plebejus anna, or some other species in the genus Plebejus based on the research we have done on BugGuide.  This photo from BugGuide shows a group of males puddling, the behavior you describe.  Some male butterflies drink from mineral rich water, urine or even dung in order to obtain necessary nutrients.  BugGuide also states:  “The life cycles of many of the blues, especially members of the genus Plebejus, are very complex and involve interesting relationships with ants.”  The general name Lycaean Blue applies to the entire subfamily Polyommatinae of the family Lycaenidae, sometimes called the Gossamer Wings, which also includes Hairstreaks, Coppers and Harvesters.  According to BugGuide:  “The family Lycaenidae contains many species, mostly small, many of them very rare.”

thank you so much…  have a nice week-end.               gentry

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination