The Moth Butterfly (Liphyra brassolis) is a butterfly found in Asia and Australia that belongs to the Lycaenids or Blues family. The larvae are predatory and feed on ant larvae. This is one of the largest species of Lycaenid butterfly. It is one of two species of Liphyra (the other being Liphyra castnia from New Guinea) and occurs as several sub-species throughout its wide range. Never a common butterfly, specimens of this species are highly-prized by collectors.
Fore wing: costa arched; apex subacute; termen convex; tornus rounded; dorsum sinuate, ciliated, about three-fourths the length of the costa; cell about half the length of the wing; vein 6 out of 7 beyond apex of cell, upper discocellular therefore absent, middle and lower discocellulars subequal, vertical; vein 7 ends on termen well below apex of wing; vein 8 out of 7, from apical half, ends on costa before apex of wing; vein 9 out of 7 from just before middle; veins 10 and 11 free; vein 12 terminates well beyond end of cell on costa. Hind wing: irregularly pear-shaped; costa slightly but widely angulated near base, then straight to apex; termen strongly rounded, tornus well marked, produced into a lobe; dorsum long, slightly convex; cell about half length of wing; middle discocellular short, concave, lower twice length of middle, strongly oblique; vein la very short, ends before middle of dorsum: vein 3 from well before lower apex of cell; vein 7 at base much closer to apex of cell than to base of wing; vein 8 very slightly arched near base, then straight to apex of wing. Antennae about half length of fore wing, no distinct club but gradually increasing to apex; palpi porrect (forward pointing), gradually tapering to apex, third joint of moderate length, as thick at base as apex of second joint; eyes naked; body heavy and robust, reminding one in its stoutness of the body of Charaxes.
The adult butterfly at emergence is covered in grey powdery scales which protect it from the ants.
Eggs are laid singly or in groups of about six, on the underside of branches of a tree with ants nest. The eggs are tiny pale green cylinders of 1 mm height.
"The jaws would most effectively take hold of the skin of an ant larva, piercing its skin at the same time in six places; they would then draw the piece so seized within the closed cavity formed between the labrum, labium and (laterally) maxillae so that the juices of the larva could be easily sucked out." (T. A. Chapman)