Northern Mariana Islands Territorial Insect
Cycad Blue Butterfly (common name)
Chilades pandava (scientific name)
The cycad blue or "plains cupid" butterfly was accidentally introduced into Guam in 2005 and has since then become a common species of the Western Pacific Islands of Northern Marianas and Guam. It is found on Saipan (largest of the Northern Mariana Islands) and Rota. The cycad butterfly is a diminutive beauty, with a grayish brown underside and beautifully patterned cream and brown markings on the wing edges, which are more prominent on the female.
Small black spots surrounded by white and two larger black spots encircled with orange-yellow are distributed on the underside. Each hind wing has a short tail with a white tip. The upper side of the wings is washed above with beautiful softly toned violet-blue after which the insect takes its name. The species has the potential to spread either by accidental introduction or migration to warmer regions of the world. Recently, it was discovered on Mauritius, at a distance of nearly 2,500 miles (1,600 km) from its native habitat.
Wing span: 0.75 in (2-3 cm)
Total Length: 0.9 in (2.4 cm)
Larvae: In the early stages of molting, they are purple, turning to green in the later stages.
A few weeks
Forest edges, lowlands, parks, and gardens
Range: The native range extends through Southeast Asia from Sri Lanka to Philippines, covering Thailand, eastern Indonesia, India, Burma, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, and Malaysia.
Flight period: Summer
Conservation status: Least Concern
Adults are usually seen in groups of three to six, and occasionally, in larger groups of over a dozen, hovering hours on end over flowers to obtain nectar. They are not easily scared by humans, unlike many of the large butterfly species. When they are abundant, males get aggressive when defending their nectaring territories.
Adults: The nectar of wild or cultivated flowers and herbaceous plants.
Larvae: The young fronds of two species of cycad, fading (Cycas micronesia) and sago palm (Cycas revolute).
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|Author: World Trade Press|