The Archdukes

The Archdukes, (Lexias dirtea) of tropical forest-dwelling butterflies that are common throughout Southeast Asia and Australasia. Members of the brush-footed butterfly family Nymphalidae, the genus is represented by about 17 species. Several Archduke species are raised in large numbers on butterfly farms for the specimen collecting market and for live sale to butterfly conservatories. To these ends, the two most commonly farmed species are Lexias pardalis and Lexias dirtea. They are nearly identical and often confused, but they can be distinguished by their differing antennae: the dorsal surface of L. pardalis' antennae tips are yellow-orange, whereas they are black in L. dirtea.The males' dorsal wing surfaces are a dramatic combination of velvety black forewings and metallic blue-green to violet covering the margins of the forewings and hindwings.The dramatic colours of the males are thought to play a role in intraspecies communication, both by signalling to other males when defending territory, and by attracting females.