Butterflies of Africa
Dorothy's Shining Blue
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - LIPTENINAE
Tribe - LIPTENINI
Bobiri, Ghana ©
The Lipteninae are wholly
African in distribution, and comprise of about 600 species, varying
from the tiny creamy yellow
to the dazzling metallic blue
Epitola posthumus - a species
which with a wingspan of 65mm, is massive by Lycaenidae standards.
The Lipteninae are fascinating because of their
association with "ant trees", i.e. trees which support colonies of
Crematogaster ants. As with most
other Lycaenidae species, the caterpillars of Liptenids have ants in
almost constant attendance. The ants "milk" a sugary substance from
a gland on the caterpillar's back, and in return for this reward the
caterpillar benefits because the presence of the aggressive ants
deters other insects such as wasps and flies that would otherwise
There are 47
Stempfferia species. Males of
most species are shining violet-blue or sapphire blue on the
uppersides, expect for the apex of the forewing which is
blackish-brown. In females the extent of the blue scaling is
reduced. Females of several species including
have a white transverse band across the forewings. On the underside
species are pale brown or greyish-brown, marked with pale spots and
submarginal lunules, although in some species such as
carcina these are often reduced to a
scattering of obscure pale spots.
is found from Sierra Leone to Togo.
This species is found in good quality rainforest, at altitudes up to
larvae feed on algae growing on the bark of trees.
The adults spend long periods at rest sitting on
tendrils or thin twigs, typically between 1-2 metres above ground
Both sexes feed at extrafloral nectaries.
Males sometimes bask on logs or on fallen tree trunks in mid-morning,
with wings fully outspread.