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Western Pygmy-Blue Brephidium exile


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Western Pygmy-Blue, dorsal view
credit: Stickpen

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

Description The Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis or Brephidium exile) is one of the smallest butterflies in the world and is the smallest in North America. It has a wingspread of about half an inch.

It is a Gossamer-wing Butterfly form the family Lycaenidae and the subfamily Theclinae.

Gossamer-wings are our smallest butterflies. Their wingspans range from 0.5-2.0 inches (1.2-5.1cm). There are about 7,000 species worldwide with about 139 species in North America.
Gossamer-wings include the subfamilies Hairstreaks, Harvesters, Coppers, and Blues.

Their flights vary from the fast, erratic Hairstreaks to the slow, bouncy Blues. They like to feed at flowers, and males like to puddle at damp ground. Most male Gossamer-wings locate females by perching, while some males patrol. The turban-shaped eggs are usually laid singly. The larva is oval-shaped with a flattened underside. Some species have honeydew glands that attract ants. Ants like to eat and collect the honeydew made by the caterpillar. In turn, the ants will swarm over anything that might try to harm the larva. The chrysalis is usually formed in leaf litter. Many chrysalises can make faint noises. Scientists believe this noise might ward off predatory ants.

Dimensions 3/8-3/4" (10-19 mm).

Habitat Cities, suburbs & towns, Forests & woodlands, Grasslands & prairies, Meadows & fields, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Shorelines & salt marshes.

Range Northwest, Southwest, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Plains.