A Guide to the Insects of the Coal Oil Point Reserve


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Last updated 08/15/2005
  Insects of Coal Oil Point > Guide > Lepidoptera > Lycaenidae - Blues, Coppers, and Hairstreaks

Lycaenidae - Blues, Coppers, and Hairstreaks

 


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Leptotes marina | Plebejus acmon | Brephidium exile | Strymon melinus


Brush-footed Butterfly Photos
(click to enlarge)

Leptotes marina - Marine Blue

male upperside

male underside

female upperside

female underside


Size: wingspread .75-1 in.

Recognition: Upperside is brown with purple iridescence; underside is light brown and white pattern; males have white fringes while females do not.

Flight period: Adults can be active all year with their main flight lasting from March to October and peaking from July to fall.

Hostplants: Marine Blue larvae feed on leadworts (Plumbago species) especially in urban areas and various plants in the legume family (Fabaceae), such as alfalfa, sweet pea and milkvetch.

Habitat: Lowlands including gardens, parks, and waste areas; they are uncommon at higher elevations.

Distribution: Resident of southern North America and Central America, but flies through much of lower North America. In southern California, it is commonly found in urban situations and deserts. It has been recorded on both Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina islands.

Other: Common in urban settings due to the frequent use of plumbago as a decorative garden plant.



Plebejus acmon - Acmon Blue

male upperside

male underside

female upperside

female underside


Size:wingspread .75-1 in.

Recognition: Male is light blue to blue; female is brown with blue hues on inner wings; both sexes have orange-pink coloring on outer HW edges; undersides are light gray with black spots, also have orange/blue coloring on outer HW edges; white wing fringes.

Flight period: The adults fly from February to October.

Hostplants: The larvae feed on many species in the legume family (Fabaceae), such as various lupines, lotuses, and milk vetches; buckwheats are also used.

Habitat: The Acmon Blue prefers arid areas, such as deserts, fields, and chaparral.

Distribution: The West coast from southern Oregon to northern Baja, and east into central California (west of the Sierra Nevada) is the range of this Blue. It is found at elevations from sea level to 10,000 ft and has been recorded on Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands.



Brephidium exile - Western Pygmy Blue

male upperside

male underside

female upperside

female underside


Recognition: Very small; light brown with blue at inner wings, near body; underside is light brown and white pattern with more white on inner wings; also has white fringes.

Flight period: The adults of this fly from March to October, or all year.

Hostplants: Pigweed (Chenopodium album) and saltbrush (Atriplex) are the hostplants for the larvae along with other Chenopodiaceae family plants, including a particular species of saltbrush that commonly grows in waste areas.

Habitat: They prefer salty areas, such as salt plains, deserts, coasts, and waste sites.

Distribution: T A resident of central and southern California, it ranges over much of the U.S. The Western Pygmy Blue is a common butterfly in the deserts and lowlands of southern California and has been found everywhere from Furnace Creek in Death Valley ( 178 ft below sea level) to high in the Panamint mountains, although it is rare at higher elevations. It has been recorded on Santa Cruz and Catalina islands off of the California coast.

Other: The Western Pygmy Blue is one of the smallest butterflies in the world and can be tough to spot, however they can often be found around their hostplants.



Strymon melinus - Gray Hairstreak

male upperside

male underside

female upperside

female underside


Size: wingspread .8-1 in.

Recognition: Dark gray to gray with orange spot near tail; underside is lighter gray with 2 orange spots and vertical orange line in HW, also dark line in mid-FW; has one long, and one very short tail.

Flight period: Adults are active all year, or February to November.

Hostplants: The larvae of the Gray Hairstreak commonly feed on pea (Fabaceae) and mallow (Malvaceae) family plants, but will use a variety of other plants as well.

Habitat: This Hairstreak is an avid flower visitor and is found in various open, sunny habitats with flowers and plants. They do not usually fly in desert areas.

Distribution: They are widespread throughout most of the U.S., from southern Canada down to South America. In Santa Barbara County they are found on Santa Cruz Island and the mainland.


 
 

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