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Copyright by: Beryn Harty
Small butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-1/4 inches. The uppersides of the wings are dark gray; those of the female have blue scaling on the hindwing. The undersides are light gray-brown with a broad red postmedian band edged with white. There are two short tails on each hindwing, with a blue marginal patch and a black spot between the tails. The small, sluglike caterpillar is brown, with a dark median dorsal longitudinal stripe, black spiracles, and short hairs. The chrysalis is mottled brown.
Common to abundant all year in South Florida; uncommon all year in the Keys.
Coastal hammocks, overgrown fields and dry open woodlands.
Three or more broods per year in Florida; two broods per year in northern part of range. The flattened, white eggs are laid singly on the undersides of dead leaves on the ground near the host plants. Young larva must crawl a great distance up the trunk of host plant to find live leaves.
Adults move their hindwings up and down when perching. Males perch on shrubs and low trees, waiting for females.
The caterpillars feed on the fallen leaves and buds of the host plants and probably on detritis. Native larval host plants include the cultivated trees Chapman's oak (Quercus chapmanii), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), sand live oak (Quercus geminata) and Virginia live oak (Quercus virginiana) and the shrubs dwarf live oak (Quercus minima), running oak (Quercus pumila), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and winged sumac (Rhus copallinum). Other native hosts include the trees scrub oak (Quercus inopina), turkey oak (Quercus laevis) and water oak (Quercus nigra). Native nectar plants include the cultivated tree willow-bustic (Sideroxylon salicifolium); the shrubs New Jersey tea (Croton humilis), sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana) and wild-sage (Lantana involucrata); and the wildflowers narrowleaf yellowtops (Flaveria linearis) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Weedy native nectar plants include Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata). Larvae also feed on the nonnative mango (Mangifera indica). Adults also sip from mud.