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Melissa Blue Lycaeides melissa


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Melissa Blue
credit: Hollingsworth, J & K

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Family: Lycaenidae, Gossamer-wing Butterflies view all from this family

Description The Melissa Blue (Lycaeides melissa) is a butterfly of the Lycaenidae family. It is found in Western North America, from Canada to Mexico. The Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a subspecies of the Melissa Blue.

The wingspan is 22–35 mm. The butterfly flies from April to August depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Lupin, Medicago and Lotus species.

Dimensions The wingspan is 22–35 mm.

Endangered Status The Karner Blue, a subspecies of the Melissa Blue, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Like so many endangered species, this butterfly has been the victim of loss of habitat to humans. Each type of butterfly relies on particular plants for feeding and laying eggs on. The Karner Blue can't live without Wild Lupine, a plant that has become increasingly rare in the eastern U.S. Development has overtaken the lupine's habitat in many areas, and fire suppression affects its habitat in others, allowing forests to encroach and shade out the lupines and other meadow plants. The Karner Blue declined alongside the lupine, and then its small populations were further reduced by collectors, who wanted the rare and beautiful butterfly for their collections. While recovery plans are being drawn up for the Karner Blue, the butterfly receives protection in several federal and state preserves.

Habitat Deserts, Forests & woodlands, Meadows & fields.

Range New England, Western Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Northwest, California, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Texas.