Thailand, Malaysia &
Family - LYCAENIDAE
Tribe - POLYOMMATINI
The genus Chilades
comprises 9 African species, and 5 from the Oriental region. The
butterflies are closely allied to the Holarctic genus
Polyommatus - a fact demonstrated by
similarities between the male genitalia.
There are 2 species
found in peninsular Malaysia - pandava
and lajus. The latter has no tails, and
is more heavily spotted on the underside. It also lacks the orange
markings found in pandava. The males of
both species are violet-blue above, whereas their females are pale
earthy brown with a flush of silvery-blue scales on the basal half
of the wings.
Chilades pandava is
a widespread and fairly common species, found in Sri Lanka, India,
Myanmar, Thailand, West Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo and the
Taman Negara, West Malaysia ©
The Cycad Blue, as it's alternative name "Plains
Cupid" suggests, is confined to the lowlands, being found mainly in
gardens and parks, along roadsides, and other disturbed areas.
Chilades species feed as larvae on a
diverse range of plants including Acacia,
Indigofera, Andrachne and
pandava is unusual in that it feeds almost exclusively on the
tender young fronds of Cycas revoluta
and other Cycads. These are a very ancient group of seed plants,
similar in appearance to palms, with a crown of compound leaves and
a stout trunk. They date back to the Jurassic era when dinosaurs
ruled the Earth. Many cycad species are now rare, but several
including the "Sago Palm" C. revoluta
are commercially cultivated and grown in gardens and city parks.
As a result of
cycad cultivation Chilades pandava has
the potential to spread either by migration or by accidental
introduction to many of the warmer parts of the world. In 2000 for
example it was discovered on Mauritius, some 2500 miles from it's
native habitat, and rapidly became a pest of cultivated cycads.
The eggs are greenish-white, lozenge-shaped and
covered with a coarse network of ridges. They are laid singly or
dotted in groups of up to six, either on the emerging fronds of the
foodplants, or attached to the edges of young leaves. The eggs are
sometimes parasitised by the miniscule wasp
The caterpillar when young is dark
reddish-purple, but in the later instars is bright green, with dark
lines along the back and sides, and a series of dark oblique
sub-dorsal markings. It has a rough textured skin, and a small
glossy black head that is partly retracted into the first thoracic
The larvae are
attended by ants which "milk" them by stroking a gland on the back
which produces a sugary secretion. In return the larvae benefit from
the protection afforded by the ants against predatory insects.
Several species of ant are known to be involved including
Monomorium speculare, and unidentified
members of the genera Anoplolepis and
The pupa is formed
on the ground, and is quickly buried by attendant ants.
The butterflies are usually seen in one's and
two's, either sitting on low foliage, or nectaring at the flowers of
various wild or cultivated herbaceous plants. Sometimes however they
can be quite abundant, with up to a dozen fluttering about at a
patch of flowers. At these times the males can be quite aggressive
towards each other, and appear to own and defend territories.
male, Taman Negara, West Malaysia ©