U.S. Blue Butterflies

Long-Tailed Blue Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel

My travels take me to see my grandsons in Israel, on average once a year. Readers notice that I often share images of Israeli butterflies. Most of them are pan-Middle East species, generally found in surrounding Lebanon, Syria (Now that’s a distressed place for a butterfly to be), Egypt, and Jordan.

It just occurred to me that these tiny Israeli blues, like this Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus on Mt. Hermon) are common, and you see them often. That does not detract from a good image that you may see, for finding an Israeli blue butterfly is not too difficult a task . . . but, unless you want to chase, in super-heated late morning conditions, and are willing to go up and down many, many times, and are willing to ditch dozens of so-so images, you come to readily appreciate that someone else, like Jeff here, has done it.

The take-away here is that in the U.S.A., east of the Mississippi river, only one blue is common. The Eastern-tailed blue ranks is often seen. All the other blues are generally absent. To want to see other eastern USA blues requires much planning, travel and expense. Florida, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont come to mind. I cannot discuss the blue populations west of the Mississippi river, for I have not been there.

Why are blues of many species common in Israel, while nearly ½ of the USA sports just a single blue? Vladimir Nabokov?

Jeff

4 thoughts on “U.S. Blue Butterflies

  1. Hi Jeff
    It is my understanding that Most if not all blue butterfly species are not true herbivores on plants. Rather , after hatching, they migrate to ant hills, enter and conceals themselves in ant skins and feces and mimic ant larvae behavior to get fed ( stroking antenna of ant). I am not sure if each species requires its own ant species but I do know the common eastern blue requires Alleghany Mound Builder ant species (a red slave keeper ant) and these have become rather rare – notice many blue species list for butterfly center in Texas

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  2. have also wondered about the lack of diversity of blues here in the states…and always annoyed when i see a wonderful image of a blue morpho attached to some sort of US butterfly event…not native, nope. beautiful YES! the blue seems to attract much attention..why are they not native to this region? hmmmm Jeff, you need to research this question!

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    • Their general absence from this ½ of the U.S. is in large part due to their often very well-defined needs, particularly their hostplant requirement, judgeva. They seem especially vulnerable to habitat loss caused by development. Vladimir Nabokov was captivated by the tiny blues. I read a biography written of him, and he had to travel to often very remote places to find these mini-gems on the wing. How does the future look for such, like the Melissa “Karner” blue? Yikes.

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