Chilades pandava (Cycad Blue Butterfly), the diminutive beauty

Chilades pandava pandava (Cycad Blue Butterfly, Plains Cupid)
Chilades pandava (Cycad Blue Butterly or Plains Cupid), resting on Bachelor's Button flower
This species of blue butterflies are really very tiny and diminutive. You have to get real close and have good eyesight to enjoy its beauty.

Thank God that we live in the digital age, where a simple point and shoot digital camera can work wonders to bring out the awesomeness of nature on computers, the beautiful details not possible to enjoy with our naked eye…hehe, especially for retirees with failing eyesight like us. ;)

Just love watching these Cycad Blue butterflies that are seen daily in a group of 3-6, in our garden, fluttering about or seemingly chasing each other almost incessantly…a marvel in our sight! Unlike, the larger species of butterflies that are so aware of humans and take flight the second we draw close!

A pair of Chilades pandava, nectar-feeding on Bachelor's ButtonThey’re usually up and about on bright sunny days, from around 10 am where our front yard which faces southeast gets the morning sun till early evening.

Dancing around or nectar-feeding for hours on end on the colourful flowers of low-growing plants like the Cuphea hyssopifolia (False Heather), Torenia fournieri (Bluewings) and Gomphrena globosa (Bachelor’s Buttons) that attract them so.

Chilades pandava is a tiny weenie pretty butterfly with an average wingspan of about 1.5-2 cm, and definitely not wider than 3 cm. The base colour at the underside is greyish brown with white and darkish-brown markings that are beautifully patterned. The hind wings have some small black spots encircled in white, with 2 larger black spots that are inwardly crowned with orangy-yellow on the lower end and each hind wing has a short white-tipped tail.

The upperside, on the other hand, is softly toned lavender-blue, hence aptly given one of its common name, the Cycad Blue Butterfly. Anyway, my description of its beauty is so inadequate…let the photos do the talking or get a more detailed description of Chilades pandava’s appearance at Wikipedia.

Chilades pandava (Plains Cupid, Cycad Blue Butterfly) nectar-feeding on Bachelor's Button flowers Chilades pandava, nectar-feeding on Bachelor's Button #2

Cycas species are the Cycad Blue Butterfly’s host plants. Its pale green-colored eggs are laid singly on newly emerging fronds that are circinately coiled. The early instar larvae are coloured purple but subsequently change to green in later stages. The caterpillars feed on tender emerging shoots of Cycad palms that have not yet hardened, thus destroying the potential beauty of these slow-growing ornamentals. Hence, in certain regions, Chilades pandava are reckoned as pests!

Sharing some butterfly information as follows:


  • Scientific name: Chilades pandava pandava (syn.: Edales pandava, Catochrysops/Euchrysops pandava)
  • Common name: Cycad Blue Butterfly, Plains Cupid
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)
  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Subfamily: Lycaeninae
  • Genus: Chilades
  • Species: C. pandava pandava

Distribution range: India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius to Myanmar, Thailand and the Sundaland.

Habitat: Forest fringe, secondary growth and gardens.

Food plants: Caterpillars feed mainly on the emerging leaves of ornamental Cycas species, such as, Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm), Cycas rumphii, Cycas micronesica (Fadang) and Cycas sphaerica, etc. Larvae are attended to by ants that protect them from parasites and predators, while at the same time feeding on the sugary liquid exuded from the caterpillars’ backs.

Last edit: June 2, 2016

Jacq's Signature

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “Chilades pandava (Cycad Blue Butterfly), the diminutive beauty”

  1. Sue in Milan Says:

    Lovely post – really enjoyed reading it. Having spent an afternoon trying to photograph butterflies this summer, with abysmal results, I know how difficult it is.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Sue! Thanks for visiting and leaving your kind comments. Glad you’ve enjoyed the post. Hehe…butterflies are such teasers, keeping us on our toes ‘endlessly’! :-D

  3. james Says:

    Im amazed at your patience and skill to capture this flutters so well & defined and that you are able to identify them and write about them so desciptively.

    I myself have no clue half of the butterfly species that flies in seconds (came and gone) before I can have my second wink!
    This butterfly must be rare as there are too few cycad around to feed.

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks for your encouraging words, James. Haha…I’m as excited in capturing all the beauties that visit our garden as in knowing their names, likewise too the plants we grow. What a wonderful life, being a gardener…it keeps us healthy, gardening and enjoying nature, and mentally alert, on our computer, right? :D

    Frankly, these butterflies are so common in our garden that I was surprised to read that cycad was their host plants.

Welcome! You are valuable to us and we love to hear from you. Leave us a comment or share your experiences. Also, please inform us if you find a broken link in any of our articles. Thank you.