Gossamerwings (Family Lycaenidae)

 

The Lycaenidae are the second-largest family of butterflies, with about
6000 species worldwide, whose members are also called gossamer-
winged butterflies. They constitute about 40% of the known butterfly

species. The family is traditionally divided into the subfamilies of the

blues (Polyommatinae), the coppers (Lycaeninae), the hairstreaks
(Theclinae) and the harvesters (Miletinae).

 

Adults are small, under 5 cm usually, and brightly coloured, sometimes

with a metallic gloss. The male's forelegs are reduced in size and lack

claws. Larvae are often flattened rather than cylindrical, with glands

that may produce secretions that attract and subdue ants. Their cuticles

tend to be thickened. Some larva are capable of producing vibrations

and low sounds that are transmitted through the substrates they inhabit

They use these sounds to communicate with ants. Adult individuals

often have hairy antenna-like tails complete with black and white

annulated appearance. Many species also have a spot at the base of

the tail and some turn around upon landing to confuse potentialpreda-

tors from recognizing the true head orientation. This causes predators

to approach from the true head end resulting in early visual detection.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Butterfly Families and Species

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