Apefly, Spalgis epius (Westwood) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) is a small aphytophagous butterfly and their larvae feeds on the insects of Pseudococcidae, Hemiptera. In the present study, development of immature stages and life cycle of this predatory butterfly was observed on mealybugs, Paracoccus marginatus (Williams and Granara de Willink) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in cocoa under the laboratory conditions. The morphometry results indicated that the diameter of the egg was 0.52 ± 0.06 mm and the they were collected and kept in the laboratory at 25-30°C and 40-80% Relative Humidity. The eggs were greenish blue in colour and disk shaped, sculptured and both the top and bottom compacted with micropylar despair in the top and hatched in 4.16 ± 0.29 days. It undergoes four larval instars and the total larval period lasts 13.1 ± 0.12 days. The upper surface of the larval body was fully developed with wax coating. The duration of the pre pupal stage was 3.00 ± 0.17 days. The mold on the hard dorsal side of the pupa resembled on the face of a monkey structure. The prepupal larva shrunk and turned toward dull black colour of the surface of body. The pupal period was recorded as 10.00 ± 0.04 days. The total duration from egg to adult emergence was noticed as 30.30 ± 0.33 days. In adults, the patch is bigger in females than that in the males. The knowledge of development and life cycle of S. epius on factitious/natural hosts on various crops is advantageous to develop and standardize the mass culturing techniques for exploration of this potential species for predation of mealybugs.
Biology, Cocoa, Lycaenidae, Mealybugs, Predator, Spalgis epius
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