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).
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).
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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