Very small, brightly-colored butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-1/8 inches. The upperside of the male is bright blue, with a narrow black margin; that of the female is duller blue with wide gray wing borders and a crescent-shaped black spot with an orange cap at the lower edge of the hindwing. The underside in both sexes is gray; the underside of the hindwing has four black eyespots on the outer margin and a wide white submarginal band. Females usually are larger than males. Both sexes are weak fliers. The caterpillar is mostly green with a black head, a red or brown dorsal line, and a white line on the side. The pupa is dark brown to black.
Florida Keys, West Indies
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Restricted to Key West National Wildlife Refuge in Florida Keys. Adults present all year.
Tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands and beachside scrub.
Three or more broods per year (February through November). The small, pale green or bluish eggs are laid singly on the flowers, flower buds, seed pods, and young shoots of host plants.
The slug-like larvae may be tended by as many as 17 species of ants.
Native larval host plants include gray nicker-bean (Caesalpinia bonduc), balloonvine (Cardiospermum corindum) and turkey tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). Native nectar plants include the weedy native Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata), Leavenworth's tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii), scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum), wild-sage (Lantana involucrata), snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) and Florida Keys blackbead (Pithecellobium keyense).
This butterfly is endemic to southern Florida and is listed as Endangered on the federal Endangered and Threatened Species List. For more information, go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species profile. For additional information, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America.
Hemiargus thomasi bethunebakeri
Gann, G.D., M.E. Abdo, J.W. Gann, G.D. Gann, Sr., S.W.
Woodmansee, K.A. Bradley, E. Grahl and K.N. Hines. 2005-2016. Natives For Your Neighborhood. http://www.regionalconservation.org.
The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida USA.