African babul blue (Azanus jesous)

African babul blue profile
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African babul blue fact file

African babul blue description

GenusAzanus (1)

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)

Male wingspan: 17 - 26 mm (2)
Female wingspan: 22 - 28 mm (2)

African babul blue biology

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).


African babul blue range

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


African babul blue habitat

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


African babul blue status

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


African babul blue threats

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


African babul blue conservation

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

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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.


  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.

Image credit

African babul blue profile  
African babul blue profile

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