Large Oak Blue
Arhopala amantes, Hewitson

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Large Oak Blue feeding on exudates from
a flush of Mango leaves

This is the largest Lycaenid in Sri Lanka with a wingspan of 45-50 mm. It's surprisingly inconspicuous on the wing despite the brilliant metallic blue markings on its upper side. In the female, the blue scales are restricted to the center and basal part of both wings; the outer margins are marked by a wide black band.

Similar species
Centaur Oak Blue - It does not have a lobe at the tornus of the hind wing when viewed from above or the green scales around the tonus of the hind wing. The markings on the undersides are less distinct than those of the Large Oakblue.

Status, distribution and habitat
It is widely distributed below 1000 feet elevation and is never numerous. The females are much more abundant than the males.

It is a butterfly of the canopy of small trees, occasionally coming down to settle on shrubs and low bushes. It flies about a great deal during the day but often with long periods of resting in between flights. To rest, it usually selects a leaf exposed to full sun at a considerable height above ground. From such positions males often check out the butterflies that pass by with a brief chase. It does not cover great distances and tends to remain in the same area day after day.

It flies fast among the tree tops in a zigzag manner, but never for long. After an initial explosive take off from a perch, it keeps its wings closed for a considerable distance in the air. Its dull underside adds to the difficulty of following it in the air. Once settled, it is not easily disturbed. However, it will fly away with sufficient cajoling, only to settle a short distance away. It never seems to take notice of flowers. The males settle on wet mud but only seldom on wet sand.

In the low country dry zone it may often be seen glued to the newly emerging leaves of mango trees, sipping at the very center (see image). While the leaves do not produce 'nectar', the breaking buds do have a sticky substance with a very pleasant odor which it seems to find irresistible.

Early stages
The eggs are laid on the leaves of a number of species of plants, Lagerstroemia spp, Hopea spp, Terminalia catappa and Syzigium spp. The larvae and pupae are always attended by red ants.

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