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Miami Blue
Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri

Copyright by: Beryn Harty

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.
Natural History:
The slug-like larvae may be tended by as many as 17 species of ants.
The most common native larval host plant is the sprawling prickly vine, gray nicker-bean (Caesalpinia bonduc), but also includes the shrub Florida Keys blackbead (Pithecellobium keyense), balloonvine (Cardiospermum corindum) in the northern Florida Keys, and presumably cat’s claw (Pithecellobium unguis-cati) in southwestern Florida. Nectar host plants include native shrubs such as bay cedar (Suriana maritima), black torch (Erithalis fruticosa), blackbead, sea lavender (Tournefortia gnaphalodes), wild-sage (Lantana involucrata), and presumably cat’s claw, native wildflowers including coastal searocket (Cakile lanceolata), Leavenworth's tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii), scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum), sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), seaside heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum), snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea), turkey tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), yellow joyweed (Alternanthera flavescens), and the weedy native Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata). Miami blue butterflies will also utilize nonnative nectar plants such as the shrubby Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius).
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 and Butterflies of Cuba.
Hemiargus thomasi bethunebakeri

Copyright by: Beryn Harty

Copyright by: Beryn Harty. With egg on nickerbean.

Copyright by: Kirsten Hines

Copyright by: Kirsten Hines

Copyright by: Kirsten Hines

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