Subject: butterflies in fire pit
Location: Idaho City, Idaho
May 9, 2014 2:39 pm
My friend found these butterflies flocking to an old fire pit near Idaho City, Idaho. We’re curious to know what species they are and why they have such an interest in charred wood? In my Google searches, I came across a YouTube video of what looked like hundreds of these same type of butterflies in someone else’s fire pit. Apparently, what my friend witnessed wasn’t an isolated phenomenon, but I was unable to find any real answers. Thanks for any help you can give us.
These are Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae, and we believe we have correctly identified them as Echo Azures, Celastrina echo, thanks to images posted to BugGuide where it states: “Most western Azures have been classified as belonging to this species name. Where this species and more easterly ranging species meet, and how to tell them apart is not well presented in literature as of yet.” We also believe we have a good hypothesis as to why they are in the fire pit. We suspect this was a night time fire that was doused with water and that the Echo Azures were drinking the moisture left behind the next day. Many male butterflies, most notably Blues and Swallowtails, gather at sites of moisture to drink and take advatage of minerals found at the puddle, an activity known as mud puddling or just puddling.