Zebra Blue
Syntarucus plinius, Fabricius

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Zebra Blue Courtship
Male below, female above

Female Zebra Blue

A small Lycaenid with a wingspan of 22-28 mm. Its undersides resemble the stripes of a zebra, hence its common name. The upper sides of the male are blue with a tinge of purple, and when viewed from above, the markings of the underside show through faintly. 

The upper sides of the forewing of the females have an area that looks like a checker board. It is surrounded by a broad black band on the outer margin and a narrower one on the front margin. There is much variation in the colour and width of these bands. The blue colour on the forewings is restricted to the basal area of the wing.

Similar species
Butler's Spotted Pierrot and the Striped Pierrot - The upper sides are similar to the corresponding sexes but the undersides are marked with discrete small black oval spots and streaks and do not resemble the zebra stripes.

Status, distribution and habitat
It is a common butterfly all over the island and may be found as high as 6000 feet. It is found all year round, especially in home gardens that may have its larval food plant Plumbago zeylanica. This is a medicinal plant that is often grown in rural home gardens. It is uncommon in places of high rainfall.

This is an active butterfly that frequently appears in numbers near its larval host plants. It has the habit of vigorously flying around bushes in circles before settling down at the edge of a twig, a leaf or a flower. From such a vantage point, the males give chase to potential mates, often spiraling up with them to great heights. It is a nectar lover and is attracted to small wild flowers, including those of its larval host plant. Once settled, it continuously rotates its body in a slow deliberate manner.

Early stages
The eggs are laid on the flower buds of the larval host plant. The larvae on emergence feed on the developing pods of the plant and are not attended by ants like many other Lycaenids. Larval host plants include Plumbago zeylanica, species of Indigofera and Sesbania.

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