Gossamer Winged Butterfly: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

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Gossamer-winged butterflies are fascinating creatures that belong to the Lycaenidae family. With their delicate, wing patterns and vibrant colors, they capture the attention of nature enthusiasts and scientists alike. These small butterflies, often found with a wingspan of about an inch, are known for the bands of orange spots on the underside edge of their wings, making them easily identifiable.

There are various types of gossamer-winged butterflies, such as the Karner blue butterfly and the bog copper butterfly. Each species is uniquely adapted to specific habitats and food sources. For example, the Karner blue butterfly thrives in areas with wild lupine plants, while the bog copper butterfly is found near cranberry plants.

Understanding the life cycle and behavior of gossamer-winged butterflies is essential for conserving their populations. Efforts to protect and manage their habitats ensure these beautiful insects continue to grace our world with their presence.

Gossamer Winged Butterfly Basics

Lycaenidae Family

Gossamer winged butterflies belong to the Lycaenidae family, which is the second largest family of butterflies. They are known for being small and brightly colored, often with metallic hues. Key features of gossamer butterflies include:

  • Small size (usually under 5 cm)
  • Bright colors, often metallic
  • Over 6,000 species worldwide

Examples of gossamer-winged butterflies are Karner blue butterfly and Bog Copper butterfly.

Subfamilies of Gossamer-Winged Butterflies

The Lycaenidae family is divided into four main subfamilies: Lycaeninae, Theclinae, Polyommatinae, and Miletinae.

Subfamily Characteristics Example
Lycaeninae Known as coppers; they display bright copper coloration on the wings. Bog Copper
Theclinae Referred to as hairstreaks; they typically have delicate hair-like markings on the rear edge of the hindwing. Gray Hairstreak
Polyommatinae Commonly called blues; they are characterized by the metallic blue color on the wings. Karner Blue
Miletinae Known as harvesters; they have a unique feeding habit where caterpillars are predators on aphids and other small insects instead of solely relying on plant diet. White-letter M

Each subfamily has its unique characteristics and the species within these subfamilies adapt to various environments and food sources.

Notable Species and Characteristics

Common Blue

The Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) is a widespread butterfly that is native to Europe and North Africa. Its distinctive features include:

  • Males: Bright blue wings with a thin black border
  • Females: Brown wings with an orange edge and blue dusting

They have a wingspan of about 26-33mm.

Adonis Blue

The Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus) is a striking species found in Europe. Key characteristics are:

  • Males: Deep blue iridescent wings with a thin black border
  • Females: Brown wings with orange crescents on edges

They have a slightly larger wingspan compared to the Common Blue, at around 28-36mm.

American Copper

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) is a butterfly native to North America and Europe. Main features include:

  • Males: Deep orange wings with irregular dark borders
  • Females: Orange-brown wings with dark markings

These butterflies have a small wingspan of about 22-28mm.

Small Blue

The Small Blue (Cupido minimus) is the smallest butterfly in Europe with a wingspan of 18-27mm. Characteristics include:

  • Males: Dark blue wings with a thin black border
  • Females: Dark brown wings with a faint blue dusting

Karner Blue

The endangered Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) has a wingspan of about an inch. Notable features are:

  • Males: Deep sky blue wings
  • Females: Grayish-brown to blue wings with orange spots on the underside edge 1

Holly Blue

Lastly, the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) has a wingspan of 25-30mm and is found in Europe and Asia. Their main features are:

  • Males: Light blue wings with thin black borders
  • Females: Blue wings with broad black borders and orange crescents

Comparison Table

Butterfly Species Wingspan Range Distinctive Features
Common Blue 26-33mm Blue wings with thin border
Adonis Blue 28-36mm Iridescent blue wings
American Copper 22-28mm Deep orange wings
Small Blue 18-27mm Smallest wingspan
Karner Blue ~1 inch Endangered, sky blue wings
Holly Blue 25-30mm Light blue wings

Life Cycle and Behavior

Eggs and Caterpillars

Gossamer-winged butterflies, like most butterflies, begin their life as eggs. They lay eggs on specific host plants, which provide food for the emerging caterpillars. These caterpillars are small and have distinctive features that help them camouflage among the plants.

  • Host plants vary depending on species
  • Gossamer-winged caterpillars feed on leaves or flowers

Pupa and Chrysalis

After reaching a certain size, caterpillars transform into pupae and settle down on a suitable location to begin the chrysalis stage. During this time, the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, eventually emerging as an adult butterfly.

  • Pupal stage lasts two weeks or more, depending on the species
  • Chrysalis can be found on twigs, stems, or leaves

Adult Butterfly

Gossamer-winged butterflies are small, typically with a wingspan of around one inch. They possess hind wings with intricate patterns, which aid in identification. These butterflies have large eyes and exhibit flight patterns unique to their species.

  • Found in diverse habitats across North America, including California
  • Multiple species exist within the gossamer-winged butterfly family
Feature Gossamer-winged butterfly Other butterflies
Size Small, about 1″ wingspan Varies
Hind wing patterns Intricate Varies
Flight pattern Species-specific Varies
Eyes Large Varies
Preferred environments Diverse habitats Varies

Mating and Reproduction

Adult gossamer-winged butterflies have a short life span, with their primary focus being reproduction. Males and females find each other and engage in mating, after which the female lays the fertilized eggs on suitable host plants.

  • Mating occurs during adult butterfly stage
  • Female can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs

Habitats and Distribution

North America

Gossamer-winged butterflies are a diverse group found in various habitats across North America. They typically prefer open, sunny areas with plenty of nectar-producing plants and specific host plants for caterpillars. Some examples are:

  • El Segundo blue butterfly: prefers coastal sand dunes in California with seacliffs silverweed plants1
  • California hairstreak: found in chaparral and woodland habitats, mainly near scrub oaks2

The larvae of some Gossamer-winged butterflies have a mutualistic relationship with ants that protect them from predators and parasitoids. In return, they provide the ants with a sugary secretion. However, their distribution may be limited by the availability of these ants in their habitat.


In Canada, some Gossamer-winged butterfly species can be found in the holarctic region, where they inhabit various ecosystems, including boreal forests, grasslands, and alpine regions. Some notable species found in Canada are:

  • Western Tailed Blue: prefers meadows with legume host plants3
  • Arctic Blue: found in alpine tundra and rocky habitats4


Tropical habitats also host Gossamer-winged butterfly species, particularly in the Neotropical region. For example:

  • Atala butterfly: native to Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America, it relies on the coontie plant as its primary host plant5

These butterflies often exhibit bright colors and patterns, providing an important ecological role as pollinators in tropical ecosystems.

Habitat Example Species Host Plants Mutualism with Ants
North America El Segundo Blue Seacliffs silverweed Yes
California Hairstreak Scrub oaks Yes
Canada (Holarctic) Western Tailed Blue Legumes No
Arctic Blue Alpine tundra plants No
Tropics Atala Coontie No

Interaction with Ants and Host Plants

Ant Mutualism

Gossamer winged butterflies, belonging to the Lycaenidae family, often display a fascinating relationship with ants. This interaction is a mutualism, meaning both ants and the butterflies benefit from it. Ants provide protection while the butterflies supply food in the form of a sugary substance called “honeydew.”

Some examples of butterfly species that exhibit ant mutualism include the pea tails and harvesters. Specific features of this interaction:

  • Caterpillars with specialized organs to produce honeydew
  • Butterfly species with developed antennae to communicate with ants

Pros of ant mutualism:

  • Enhanced protection for caterpillars
  • Additional food source for ants

Cons of ant mutualism:

  • Increased dependency on ants for survival
  • Restriction of caterpillars’ range of food sources

Host Plants

Gossamer winged butterflies require specific host plants for their lifecycle. These plants provide the necessary nutrients and habitat for the caterpillars to grow and develop into adult butterflies.

Some host plants for Gossamer winged butterflies:

  • Pipevines: for Pipevine swallowtails
  • Pawpaw: for Zebra swallowtail
  • Parsley family: for black swallowtail
  • Milkweed: for Monarch butterflies

The choice of native host plants is crucial to support butterfly populations. By incorporating these plants into the landscape, you can help maintain and strengthen the populations of these beautiful insects.

Butterfly Species Host Plant
Pea tail Pea plants
Harvester Woolly Aphid colonies
Zebra swallowtail Pawpaw
Black swallowtail Parsley family

Conservation and Threats

Endangered Species

Many Gossamer Winged Butterfly species, such as the California Hairstreak, Mission Blue, Juniper Hairstreak, Colorado Hairstreak, Fender’s Blue, Adonis Blue, Karner Blue, Large Blue, Green Hairstreak, and Miami Blue are under threat.
The threats include habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.

Conservation Efforts

There are various efforts in place to protect these butterflies. For example, US Fish and Wildlife Service provides grants to support the development and implementation of conservation programs for threatened and endangered species.


  • Increases awareness about endangered butterfly species
  • Supports recovery and conservation plans


  • Can be expensive and require significant resources
  • May take years to see results

Here’s a comparison table of some Gossamer Winged Butterfly species in terms of their conservation status:

Species Conservation Status
California Hairstreak Least Concern
Mission Blue Endangered
Juniper Hairstreak Least Concern
Colorado Hairstreak Least Concern
Fender’s Blue Endangered
Adonis Blue Near Threatened
Karner Blue Endangered
Large Blue Near Threatened
Green Hairstreak Least Concern
Miami Blue Critically Endangered

Efforts to help these butterflies also benefit other pollinators, such as bees, by providing:

  • Food: Creating pollinator-friendly habitats with a variety of blooming plants
  • Shelter: Providing safe nesting sites and protection from weather and predators

Unique Featuring

Color Patterns

Gossamer-winged butterflies are well-known for their vibrant colors and intricate patterns. For instance, the Karner blue butterfly displays orange bands on the underside of its wings, while males have deep sky blue upper wings. Another example is the bog copper butterfly, which possesses reddish-copper upper wings.

These butterflies can have various hues and patterns, even within the same family. Some notable species are:

  • Pygmy blue: Small size and vibrant blue color
  • Strymon melinus: Grayish upper wings with light-blue spots
  • Satyrium californica: Brownish upper wings and dark eye spots

Slug-Like Larvae

Most gossamer-winged butterfly larvae resemble small slugs, with tapered bodies and short legs. These larvae feed on specific host plants, such as mallow for Strymon melinus or milkweed for others.

Comparing slug-like larvae in different species:

Species Larvae Appearance Host Plant
Pygmy blue Green with short hair-like projections Goosefoot
Strymon melinus Green, smooth body, and a yellow stripe on each side Mallow
Satyrium californica Brownish-gray with a white stripe Buckthorn

Besides their unique color patterns and slug-like larvae, gossamer-winged butterflies have other noteworthy features, such as:

  • Eyes: Large, round, and highly sensitive to light, aiding in navigation and food source detection
  • Antennae: Long and club-shaped, serving for balance during flight and detecting scents

Gossamer-winged butterflies play a crucial role in the ecosystem, pollinating various plant species and serving as a food source for predators. Their unique features and adaptations have captured human fascination, even inspiring innovations in science and technology.


  1. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/endangeredresources/karner/identification.html 2

  2. https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Satyrium-californica

  3. https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Cupido-comyntas

  4. https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Agriades-glandon

  5. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN185

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Lycaean Blue


Subject: small blue moth (?)
Location: central washington
May 25, 2012 5:44 pm
around our cattle watering trough there are many of these…
Signature: gentry


Hi gentry,
This lovely little Lycaean Blue might be Boisduval’s Blue,
Plebejus icarioides, or Anna’s Blue, Plebejus anna, or some other species in the genus Plebejus based on the research we have done on BugGuide.  This photo from BugGuide shows a group of males puddling, the behavior you describe.  Some male butterflies drink from mineral rich water, urine or even dung in order to obtain necessary nutrients.  BugGuide also states:  “The life cycles of many of the blues, especially members of the genus Plebejus, are very complex and involve interesting relationships with ants.”  The general name Lycaean Blue applies to the entire subfamily Polyommatinae of the family Lycaenidae, sometimes called the Gossamer Wings, which also includes Hairstreaks, Coppers and Harvesters.  According to BugGuide:  “The family Lycaenidae contains many species, mostly small, many of them very rare.”

thank you so much…  have a nice week-end.               gentry

Letter 2 – Gossamer Winged Butterfly Caterpillar


pink caterpillar
Dear Bugman,
I found this pretty bubblegum pink caterpillar this afternoon eating my scarlet runner beans. My daughters and I have really enjoyed your site, and thought about you right away. I’m attaching two pictures, and I hope that you can help us.
Sherry O’Rorke
Sparkman, Arkansas

Hi Sherry,
We believe this is some species of Slug Caterpillar in the family Limacodidae, but we were unable to locate an exact match on BugGuide.

Update: (07/21/2008)
Sirs – The ” Probably Unknown Slug Caterpillar (07/11/2008) pink caterpillar” most likely is in the family Lycaenidae. See http://www.dallasbutterflies.com/Butterflies/LARVA/pics/henricilarvae.jpg for an example.
Ed Saugstad
Sinks Grove, WV.

Letter 3 – Blue


Subject: Little blue butterfly
Location: powell, Ohio
June 5, 2015 3:58 pm
This little guy, maybe the size of a quarter, was a pretty periwinkle blue on the backs of its wings. I could only get a picture when it landed and had its wings closed, sorry! Columbus area Ohio, wooded backyard, early June.
Signature: Amber


Dear Amber,
The color on your image does not look normal.  This is one of the Blues, a small small butterfly in the subfamily Polyommatinae, which you can find on BugGuide.
  We are postdating your letter to go live later in June while we are out of the office.

Letter 4 – Blue, but what species???


Subject: Blue/Beige Butterfly, Perhaps a Reakirt’s Blue?
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
April 28, 2013 8:58 pm
Bright sun and a fast butterfly make this one difficult for me to identify. Its overall look in person was small and beige. The blue showed when it flew. Is it possibly a Reakirt’s Blue butterfly, an Echinargus isola? Thank you! Mostly sunny, warm day today, and this is in a field of native grasses, saplings and wildflowers. Here’s the reference from Bug Guide: http://bugguide.net/index.php?q=search&keys=reakirt%27s+blue&search=Search
Signature: Ellen

Which Blue is it???
Which Blue is it???

Hi Ellen,
While we agree that this is one of the Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae, we cannot say for certain that it is Reakirt’s Blue.  This is a very difficult group for us to identify to the species level.

Blue, but which one???
Blue, but which one???

Letter 5 – Brown Elfin


Brown Elfin b’fly
Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 3:05 PM
Hi Lisa Anne and Daniel. I noticed you haven’t a Brown Elfin butterfly on your site. Here is one on juniper that I found in central WY on 4/21.
near Casper, WY

Brown Elfin
Brown Elfin

Hi Dwaine,
We are going to trust your identification that this is a Brown Elfin, Callophrys augustinus, because there are many species in the genus and proper identification might tax our questionable taxonomic skills well beyond the level we feel comfortable.  According to BugGuide it is:  “locally common; the most often encountered elfin in most of its range.”   Elfins are grouped together with the Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks as the Gossamer Winged Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae.

Letter 6 – Cassius Blue


Subject: Butterfly ID
Location: St Petersburg, Florida
November 10, 2012 1:35 pm
I came across your website while researching a butterfly. Yesterday in St Petersburg Florida I took a couple of shots of a small blue butterfly and have searched the web for an ID. It looks to me to be a Miami Blue but I’m not expert on butterflies and was wondering if you could confirm or correct me on what this is. I only got two fairly decent shots of it and here are the links in case the photos are too big to upload.
Signature: S. Hunter Spenceley

Cassius Blue

Dear S. Hunter,
The Blues can be a very difficult group to correctly identify to the species level.  According to BugGuide, the Miami Blue is “Only known US colony is Bahia Honda SP in the Keys. Also in the WI and Cuba.”
We believe you encountered a Cassius Blue, Leptotes cassius, based on photos posted to BugGuide where it is described as:  “Below, ‘zebra-striped’ pattern and two dark spots on the hind wing, rimmed with orange, are distinctive.
Above, male is purple-blue with a thin black border and white wing fringe, and a faint dark marginal spot on the hind wing. Female is light blue with a broad gray border and two dark marginal wing spots on the hind wing.”

Cassius Blue

Thank you very much for the response.  I looked at the link to BugGuide and the Leptotes looks just like it so I believe it is the Cassius Blue.
Thanks again!

Hi again Hunter,
Like we stated earlier, the Blues are a difficult group to identify.  There were many similarities between your photos of the Cassius Blue and the Miami Blue.  Drilling down to the range produced the doubt that eventually led us to the Cassius Blue as the most likely candidate.

Letter 7 – Common Brown Playboy from Saudi Arabia


Subject: what is this butterfly
Location: Madinah-Saudi Arabia
April 29, 2016 9:25 am
Hi bug man. Found this today.
Signature: M.A

Common Brown Playboy 

Dear M.A.,
This is a Hairstreak in the subfamily Theclinae, and we were having trouble locating images from Saudi Arabia, so we turned to Wikipedia which we rarely do.  On the List of Butterflies from Saudi Arabia on Wikipedia, we located a few species and followed the link to the Wikipedia page on
Deudorix antalus which contains a head on view very similar to your own image.  Butterflies of Africa has a lateral view very similar to your own image and provides the common name Common Brown Playboy.  We are confident that is a correct identification.

Hairstreak:  Deudorix antalus
Common Brown Playboy

Letter 8 – Echo Azures gather at Fire Pit


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.
Signature: Hanna

Echo Azures in a Fire Pit
Echo Azures in a Fire Pit

Dear Hanna,
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.

Letter 9 – Female Acmon Blue


Subject: Daniel – Help with Small Butterfly ID?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
August 27, 2013 3:08 pm
Hi Daniel,
First, I must say I’ve opened your site using google chrome and like the results much better than when using my default IE browser. Hopefully your webmaster will be able to make the site more IE friendly soon?
I am pretty sure I have photographed the attached butterfly in past, but can’t find the name now. With my naked, not so good eyes, it looked like a Marine Blue but it is not. Can you help, please? The China Aster it is feeding on is a small bloom, only about 1.5” in diameter.
Signature: Thank you, Anna Carreon

Acmon Blue female
Acmon Blue female

Hi Anna,
We are happy to hear that your browser issues have improved.  This looks to us to be a female Acmon Blue and you can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  We used Jeffrey Glassberg’s Butterflies Through Binoculars, The West for our initial identification.

Letter 10 – Female Acmon Blue


Subject:  Last ID
Location:  Kings Canyon National Park, California
July 30, 3014
hi what’s that bug?
hoping you can help ID this small butterfly from july 17, 2014.
kings canyon national park, CA.
thanks very much,
clare, los angeles.

Female Acmon Blue
Female Acmon Blue

Hi Clare,
This appears to be a female Acmon Blue,
Plebejus acmon, and you can compare your individual to this mounted specimen on BugGuide.

Letter 11 – Formerly extinct Large Blue reintroduced to England


Subject: Large Blue
Location: Collard Hill, UK
June 26, 2015 12:26 pm
Hi bugman
I thought you might like this picture for your site. It is a Large Blue, Phengaris arion, that i photographed on 20th June at Collard Hill here in the UK. Large Blues have a really weird lifecycle, with the caterpillar spending most of its life in an ants nest feeding on ant grubs. Large Blues became extinct in the UK in 1979, but they have been reintroduced and have spread to over 20 sirtes in south west England.
Signature: Zoovolunteer

Large Blue
Large Blue

Dear Zoovolunteer,
Thanks so much for sending your images of a Large Blue, but especially for providing the information on the reintroduction of the Large Blue to the UK after their extinction there.  We would love to know the circumstances surrounding their extinction as well as where the introduced individuals originated.
  According to the IUCN Red List site, the range is:  “From notthern [sic] Spain and eastwards to Italy, Greece and southern Scandinavia. Extinct in the United Kingdom due to the loss of the short turf habitat when rabbits died out during the myxamotosis crisis. Recently successfully reintroduced to a dozen or so sites in southwestern England.”  A different IUCN Red List page provides this information:  “This species occurs in Central Europe from north and central Spain via France to Denmark, south of Sweden and south of Finland and from the south of Italy and Greece to Siberia, Mongolia, China and Japan. Re-introduced successfully into a number of areas in southern England. 0-2,000 m. The global distribution area of the species is situated both within and outside Europe.”

Large Blue
Large Blue

Letter 12 – Gossamer Wing from Tanzania


Subject: Tanzanian butterfly
Location: Arusha Tanzania
April 8, 2013 4:35 am
this was taken this morning, there are a number of these around at the moment, it is during the start of the long rains here. Photo from Arusha in Tanzania.
Although when resting, the wings are always closed, but the top wing colour is bluish purple as can sort of be seen in the second photo.
About 12 to 15 mm in height.
Signature: Simon

Gossamer Wing
Gossamer Wing

Hi Simon,
This is a Gossamer Wing Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae, which includes Blues, Hairstreaks and Coppers.  Sorry we cannot provide a species identification.

Gossamer Wing
Gossamer Wing

Thanks for the quick response, I have done some further research in the last 24 hours and I think it could be this species, cacyreus lingeus or the Common bush blue, is this a possibility?

Hi again Simon,
We found an image of the Common Bush Blue on TrekNature and Butterflies of Africa and it does look like your butterfly.  The scientific name Cacyreus lingeus should have the first word or the genus name capitalized.

Thanks for taking the time!
There is about 20 to 30 different butterflies in the back yard at the moment, slowly going through them all, so may send some more if I get stuck again,

You are welcome Simon.  Our identification requests are starting to pick up again as spring is hitting much of the northern hemisphere, but we would love to post additional nice photos of African butterflies, especially if you already have them identified.  Please use our standard submission form for any nice photos you have that you would like us to post.

Mating Common Bush Blues
Mating Common Bush Blues look like Jumping Spider

What caught my eye with these Cacyreus lingeus is that I also saw a pair mating, and after a bit of maneuvering and jostling about, they settled down into the one position for about 5 to 10 minutes or so, and the pattern of the “eyes” on the wings of the joined butterflies, as well as the final configuration of both showed a distinct mimicry of a jumping spider.
In the brief research that I have done, I have not seen anything written anywhere of two separate insects actually using mimicry as a defense mechanism before, although they were still for quite a while so were fair game without some defense system.
Have attached the photo to see what you think?

That is an awesome observation Simon.  They really do look like the face of a Jumping Spider.  Perhaps it is time for you to write a paper.  We will be adding this photo to your original submission as well as making it a unique posting that is a feature.


Letter 13 – Gossamer Winged Butterfly Caterpillar


Wonder if you could identify this creepy?
John R. Austin, Pastor
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Granbury, TX

Hello Reverand,
This is a caterpillar from one of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. It look remarkably similar to Henry’s Elfin, Callophrys henrici, pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 14 – Gossamer Winged Butterfly from China


Subject:  Interesting Lycaenid Butterfly in ShenZhen
Geographic location of the bug:  Shenzhen, China
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear bugman,
I came across this butterfly in the specified location. Upon closer inspection, it looks like some of its patterns has faded (see IMG_4434). For example, there seems to be 4 faded spots around the discal area of the hindwing, and I could see extremely faint tints of orange around the black eyespot. I would appreciate your help!
How you want your letter signed:  Jonathan

Gossamer Winged Butterfly

Dear Jonathan,
We have trouble distinguishing different species of Gossamer Winged Butterflies from one another in North America where there are actually very excellent sites devoted to insect identification.  There is not the same database for Chinese species.  We believe this is most likely a Tailed Blue, but we would not rule out that it might be a Hairstreak.  Several similar looking species that we have found on the internet include a Pea Blue,
Lampides boeticus, that we found on My Butterfly Collection, and a Silver Forget-Me-Not, Catochrysops panormus, that we found on Butterflies of Singapore.

Gossamer Winged Butterfly

Letter 15 – Gossamer Winged Butterfly from Spain


Subject: Butterfly ID
Location: Northern Spain
July 30, 2017 5:10 am
Hi Daniel I photographed this butterfly in Northern Spain in June this year but cant identify it can you help.
Signature: Tony Mellor UK

Gossamer Wing Butterfly

Hi Tony,
The best we can provide at this time is a family identification.  This is a Gossamer Winged Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.

Letter 16 – Grecian Blue


Subject: Lycaenidae Butterfly
Location: Grete, Greece
July 4, 2014 1:47 pm
Dear “what’s the bug”
I have been for a long time trying to identify this butterfly. I tend to believe that it is a common blue (Polyommatus icarus) but I am not sure, because the spots are not that clear. Could you please help me identify it? It was photographed in the island of Crete, Greece in 16 March 2013. The habitat was brushwood under heavy grazing pressure.
Thanks a lot in advance
Signature: Thanasis


Dear Thanasis,
Blues are a very difficult group for us to identity, but we are posting your images and we will do the research.  Meanwhile, perhaps one of our readers who is more familiar with the Lycaean Blues will write in and assist in the identification.

Grecian Blue
Grecian Blue

Dear Daniel Marlos,
thank you very much for your immediate reply. I’m grateful for your help, and I hope that there will be a solution (it’s been more than a year that a have not succeeded to ID this butterfly.)
Best Regards,

Hi again Thanasis,
Many times we get comments that identify a species from long ago in our archives, and we are no longer able to contact the person who submitted the request, so we would advise you to place a comment on the posting to connect you to people who may write in in the future.


Letter 17 – Imperial Sunstreak from Ecuador and Identification Assistance Request


Need ID for Neo tropical Conservation Project
Sat, May 30, 2009 at 6:13 PM
I won t post any photos here as there are too many but all of them are visible on flickr at:
If anybody can help in narowing some of the identifications, it would be greatly appreciated. The place is also available for research. Thanks in advance.
ecuador eastern slopes

Imperial Sunstreak
Imperial Sunstreak

Dear Thierry,
We almost didn’t open your email because at this time of year, we get numerous requests from lazy students who realize their entomology identification projects are due. They send us blurry photos and frantic requests so they don’t flunk their classes. Needless to say, we ignore those requests. Your project has us fascinated, and we wish we had the time to research the 100s of unknown specimens represented by your photographs. We are happy to post the link http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigal_river_conservation_project_ecuador/sets/ to your project in the event any of our readers want to take a stab at assisting you. If nothing else, our readers should enjoy scanning through your wonderful images. We are taking the liberty of posting an image of an Imperial Sunstreak, Arcas imperialis, and the accompanying text:
“Imperial Arcas, Imperial Sunstreak- Mariposa Brillante- October 2008-
Thanks Kim Garwood for IDing this!
…This Imperial Sunstreak is a spledid butterfly that lives from Mexico to Bolivia, in Colombia from sea level to 1500 masl. Some of the butterflies of this family have some hairy tails that they move constantly so the predators will get confused and if they bite they won´t do it in the head. Forewing average 20-22 mm. “

Dear Mr Marlos.
Thanks for your kind words and your support. The link you posted on you website is an honour for us and will prove to be of a great help. I didn t know entomology students could be lazy (endless biodiversity in that field can’t afford lazyness!), but I guess they are like any other students… I think I owe you a presentation so here we go:
My name is Thierry Garcia, Executive Director of the Sumac Muyu Foundation from Ecuador.
We are running a Conservation Project in Ecuador (the Bigal River Conservation Project), in the Amazon part of the Country, about 60 km from the city of Coca, at an altitude between 450 m and 1100 m above sea level. We are trying to protect 2500 acres of primary forest and its biodiversity and as the area is bordering Sumaco National Park, it is a major buffer zone. The Reserve is community owned and we are struggling everyday to get more and more local individuals involved in conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
The place is still pristine because of its remoteness, biodiversity is at its highest, it is covered with lush primary rainforest bordering Sumaco National Park, one of the less explored National Park in the country, and our first goal is to keep it this way.
I would also like to put across the fact that it is not a business we are trying to run here or another expensive jungle lodge, but a true Conservation Project based on education in the local communities, scientific research, and poverty eradication, through environmental awareness. Eco tourism will be used as a last resort to generate funds and salaries for the locals and, if implemented, it will be subject to strict regulation in order to minimize the impact on the ecosystem.
You can also visit our website for pictures and other info (in Spanish, English or French) at:
We are currently looking for a partnership (long or short term) involving research with a University or any other Organization in order to help us manage the place’s biodiversity in the best way as possible and to improve scientific knowledge of the area which is hardly inexistent. Needless to say, chances of discovering new species are high and that this place is in need of urgent protection, this is why we are looking for any kind of way to promote the area internationally so it becomes better known and better protected.
We are also looking for individual scientists or students who would be willing to help us identify some of the species just by analyzing the photos we could send them (or the one we post on flickr), or even better by paying us a visit in our area.
So far we have international experts for the following arthropods groups: phasmatodea, odonata, opiliones, scorpiones and amblipigy, rhopalocera, myriapoda, and I think that’s it. Any other groups needs help…
The importance for me in being in touch with specialists vs generalists is that I found out they are the only one who can ID photos without problem unless a new species occurs. This avoids collecting and therefore the bureaucracy maze involved in obtaining permits, plus it gives those animals a break at a crucial time in the history of our planet when I think every single creature deserves a break before mass extinction takes places.
Nevertheless our fondation has the necessary contacts to obtain permits and we can seriously facilitate permits obenition if needed.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. Let’s keep in touch and don’t hesitate to come and visit us at some poit if you can.
Best regards,
Thierry Garcia
Fundación Ecológica Sumac Muyu
00 (593) 087-105-383

Hello again Thierry,
Thanks for you wonderful explanation of your project.  We are horrified to think that you interpreted our comment to mean that we thought entomology students were lazy.  We actually meant students taking general biology classes which are often required in high school and college.  Those classes often require students to make an insect collection and identify the specimens.  We also hope you are successful in your conservation attempts.  Here in Los Angeles, we are often battling with our own conservation attempts.  Our offices are located in the neighborhood of Mount Washington where some of the last remaining open spaces with endangered California Black Walnut Trees, Juglans californica, are located.  Activists and environmentalists are constantly at odds with developers who want to cut the trees and build McMansions.

Letter 18 – Jewelmark Butterfly from Costa Rica


Subject: Butterfly from Costa Rica
Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
February 1, 2015 10:56 am
This little butterfly landed on me during a tour of an organic farm in Costa Rica in January. I’d love to know what kind of butterfly it is! We were on the Osa Peninsula, near the Gulfo Dulce coast.
Signature: Dawn Howell

Gossamer Wing
Jewelmark Butterfly

Dear Dawn,
We believe this is a Gossamer Wing in the family Lycaenidae, a family of generally small and often quite colorful butterflies.  We found a matching image on Visual Unlimited where it is identified as a Jewelmark Butterfly,
Sarota gyas.  According to Butterflies of Amazonia:  “The Sarota Jewelmarks are possibly the cutest butterflies in the world. They have a very rapid and erratic flight. When seen buzzing about in the early morning they can easily be mistaken for small flies. Eventually they settle however and reveal themselves as creatures of exquisite beauty, with bright orange undersides streaked with metallic silver; and cute little furry legs !”  According to the Butterflies of America, the range is:  “[Mexico to Panama?], Colombia to Peru, Brazil, Guianas.”  According to the Costa Rica Biodiversity Portal:  “Species recorded in: Costa Rica.”

Letter 19 – Karner Blues, including shot of male genitalia


Subject:  Karner blue butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Albany Pine Bush, Albany, NY
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 05:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi What’s that Bug!
Here’s a mystery for you. I’m quite certain this is a Karner blue butterfly, Plebejus melissa samuelis. You may be aware that our Albany Pine Bush in upstate New York is one of the few habitats this endangered subspecies can thrive, since its larvae feed only on the wild blue lupine that grows here. I saw quite a few Karner blues out among the lupines on this visit! None of our other local blues have that much orange along the wing, so it has to be a Karner.
The mystery: what the heck is going on with its abdomen? What is that orange stuff at the end? I thought it might be laying an egg, but as far as I can tell their eggs are light gray or white, not orange. And anyway it’s not on a lupine–I think the plant is a raspberry or blackberry. It stayed in this position for a couple of minutes before fluttering off, and I didn’t realize there was anything weird until I looked at the photos.
I’ll also include a better image of a different individual for your enjoyment. This little guy seemed to be more interested in lapping up my sweat than anything else–I tried to coax it onto a lupine, but it wouldn’t leave!
How you want your letter signed:  Susan B.

Male Karner Blue exposing his genitalia

Dear Susan,
Though we are quite excited to post your Karner Blue images, we will start with the mystery.  We don’t know what that is, but we suspect it is not a good thing.  We suspect this might be evidence of parasitism, possibly Dipteran, meaning a type of fly.  Though we don’t often site Wikipedia, it does provide this information “A tachinid fly,
Aplomya theclarum, has also been listed as a Karner blue butterfly parasite.”*  We will attempt to get a second opinion on this matter.  Meanwhile, we really are thrilled with your images of Karner Blues.  Not only was it described by one of Daniel’s favorite writers, Vladimir Nabokov, it is a new species for our site that currently contains over postings. 

Karner Blue

*Haack, Robert A. (1993). “The endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): biology, management considerations, and data gaps”. In Gillespie, Andrew R.; Parker, George R.; Pope, Phillip E. (eds.). Proceedings, 9th central hardwood forest conference; 1993 March 8–10; West Lafayette, IN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-161. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. pp. 83–100.

Thank you so much for your reply! I was pretty excited to spot so many Karner blues that day—usually I don’t get out to the Pine Bush until later in the year, when they are scarcer. I’ll be going back early in the morning to see if I can catch them basking with their wings open.
That’s a good thought that the orange mass may be parasites. I hadn’t even considered that it could be somebody else’s eggs. I’ve sent the image along to the staff at the Albany Pine Bush to see if they can identify it for sure, and also so that they can document it, since they monitor all the happenings with the wildlife there.
Susan B.
Karner blue update—I heard back from the entomologist at the Albany Pine Bush regarding the weird orange mass on my Karner blue butterfly. Here’s her response (with her permission to share):
“Hi Susan,
Thanks for sending along the images! I have to tell you, what you are seeing there at the end of the abdomen is rated PG-13. What you captured is the genitalia of a male karner. They don’t usually flash them like that, it is unusual to see as they are usually kept internally until mating. An interesting thing to document, for sure! Thanks again for sharing.
What a relief to hear that I was only witnessing a bit of lepidopteran exhibitionism, and not a parasite infestation (fascinating though that would be)!
-Susan B.

Thanks for the fascinating update Susan.  It is interesting that Nabokov classified many of the Blues using a theoretical taxonomy that he devised after dissecting the genitalia of museum specimens.

Letter 20 – Lycaean Blues


Subject: Butterflies – Siskiyou/Cascade Mtn.
Location: Southern Oregon
August 9, 2012 11:43 am
Here are three butterflies I hope you can identify taken a couple weeks ago. Are they all blues?
Signature: TerryDarc

Lycaean Blue

Dear TerryDarc,
Yes, all of your butterflies are Lycaean Blues, and furthermore, we suspect since they were all flying at the same time in the same vicinity, they might all be the same species.

Female Lycaean Blue

The individual with the brown wings is a female.  Many of the Blues have pronounced sexual dimorphism with blue males and brown females.  In our opinion, two likely candidates for species are Boisduval’s Blue, Plebejus icarioides, which can be found represented on BugGuide, and the Greenish Blue, Plebejus saepiolus, which can also be found on BugGuide.  It is also worth noting that there are many subspecies and local variations in coloration among the Blues.  BugGuide notes:  “A varied group, and several species can be confusingly similar.”  The Thumbnails on the Butterflies of Americawebsite might help to determine the species.

Lycaean Blue

Thank you very much, Daniel!



Letter 21 – Marine Blue


Is this a Butterfly?
Location: Quartz Hills, Calif.
November 1, 2011 10:47 pm
I live in the Antelope Valley, Calif., and I have never seen this Butterfly before. At least I think it is a Butterfly. I’m wondering if it is part of the Lycaenidae.
Thank you.
Signature: Jean Haley

Marine Blue

Hi Jean,
This is a Marine Blue,
Leptotes marina, and it is indeed one of the Lycaenidae or Gossamer Wings.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “This is another butterfly that is common in local parks and gardens because its larva feeds on the buds and blossoms of the ornamental shrubs and vines (Plumbago species, Wisteria Vine, sweet pea, and other members of the Pea Family.”

Thank you so much. Made my day!!

Letter 22 – Marine Blue


Subject: West Los Angeles sighting – Marine Blue 1
Location: West Los Angeles
July 11, 2017 10:13 am
HI Bugman,
We planted Cape Plumbago to attract these little butterflies. Marine Blues have been the most difficult butterflies to photograph and I have not been able to get pics of anything but adults. They almost never rest and flit around my yard about 2 feet off the ground. If two meet, they spiral together about 15 feet up in the air.
These first photos were taken in 2011.
Signature: Jeff Bremer

Marine Blue

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for resending these images.  We agree that they represent the Marine Blue.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar hosts: Leadwort (
Plumbago) and many legumes including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), milkvetch (Astragalus), and mesquite (Prosopis).”  Having the plumbago in your yard is providing food for both adults and caterpillars. 

Marine Blue

Letter 23 – Marine Blue drowns in water bowl


Subject: Blue Butterfly Drowning Incident
Location: Silver Lake (Los Angeles) CA
July 10, 2014 12:26 am
Hi Daniel,
These tiny butterflies never stand still long enough to get a good photo, except when they turn up in the dog’s water bowl. In the sunlight, their wings flash brilliant blue near their bodies (I thought their bodies were even blue – after reviewing the photos – I was wrong on that count.)
Wingtip to wingtip, the butterfly might measure an entire inch across. In the sun they look more gray than brown and their blue is iridescent. They particularly like the Plumbago (blue flowers) growing all over the hill.
Signature: Diane E

Marine Blue
Marine Blue

Hi Diane,
The Marine Blue,
Leptotes marina, is a very common butterfly in Los Angeles, and their adaptation to cultivated plumbago as a larval food plant has undoubtedly led to the presence of the Marine Blue throughout Los Angeles.  This female has more brown on its wings than the bluer male.  The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) website has a nice comparison of the sexes.  It appears that the coloration of the Marine Blue is not because of pigment, but because of the way the scales react to light, so we will attempt additional research on this speculation.

Letter 24 – Mating Marine Blues


Subject: Daniel, Mating Marine Blue Butterflies
Location: Hawthorne, California
October 28, 2014 6:02 pm
Hi Daniel,
Hope all is going well with you and yours this fall. I haven’t been able to be out in the back much until now and imagine my surprise when this pair of mating Marine Blues stayed still long enough for me to drag the camera out . Marty wanted to tear out the pincushion plants a few weeks ago, but I asked him to hold on as they are close to some milkweed and we may yet have some Monarch chryalids (sp?). Anyways, I thought you might like to see that our Marine Blues are alive and well! I know they’re common, but I enjoy them nontheless.
Signature: Anna Carreon

Mating Marine Blues
Mating Marine Blues

Hi Anna,
Your image of Marine Blues mating is quite lovely.  Thanks for taking the time to drag out the camera.  Though they are common, they are quite cheerful flitting around the garden.

Your correction is duly noted.  Drag out the camera rather than drag the camera out.  My mother will be mortified to find I made such a horrid mistake. . .

Our own grammar is not the best.  Grammar check is constantly warning us of passive voice.

Letter 25 – Pacific Azure


Subject:  Possibly Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
Geographic location of the bug:  Silverdale, WA
Date: 07/12/2018
Time: 12:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think I have correctly ID’d this as a Spring Azure! Hope you enjoy the photo, and as always, it’s been a pleasure visiting your site.
How you want your letter signed:  Bug aficionado

Pacific Azure

Dear Bug aficionado,
Thanks for the compliment and thank you for submitting your wonderful image of what we are going to have to disagree is a Spring Azure, because according to BugGuide, the range of the Spring Azure does not extend that far west.  Our best guess is that this is an Echo Azure,
Celastrina echo, because, according to BugGuide:  “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.”  Of the four subspecies of Echo Azures documented on BugGuide, both the Pacific Azure, Celastrina echo echo, and the Northwestern Azure, Celastrina echo nigrescens, are reported from Washington.  Based on this BugGuide image, we would lean to the Pacific Azure.  We find differentiating the Blues to be especially challenging.

Letter 26 – Puddling Blues are probably Pacific Azures


Subject:  Butterfly vs. Moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Big Sur, California
Date: 02/21/2020
Time: 10:17 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dearest Bugman,
While on holiday in Big Sur I saw one majestic monarch and many lightly colored winged animals. I’m wondering if they are butterflies vs. moths, I seem to be thinking that moths are nocturnal, but these lovelies were sun worshipping yesterday near a waterfall not too far from the beach.
How you want your letter signed:  Melanie on the Irish Chain

Pacific Azures Puddling, we believe

Dear Melanie on the Irish Chain,
Your image is lovely.  Your sun worshiping Gossamer Winged butterflies are actually enjoying a mud puddle party, a common activity where certain butterflies gather at mud puddles, damp ground or occasionally fresh animal feces to obtain both moisture and minerals.  Your butterflies are Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae, a group of that especially fascinated Vladimir Nabokov whose speculative taxonomy was proven in the fascinating book Nabokov’s Blues.  We hesitate to provide a species name since we just encountered conflicting information between BugGuide which only lists the Spring Azure as an eastern species and the Jeffrey Glassberg book Butterflies Through Binoculars, the West which does list the range of the Spring Azure,
Celastrina ladon, in western states and which states:  “One of the first nonhibernating butterflies to fly in the spring. Beginning February in Southern California.”  Here is a BugGuide image of puddling Pacific Azures, Celastrina echo.  

Letter 27 – Puddling Lycaean Blues


Subject: Butterflies
Location: Eastern Tennessee
April 3, 2014 11:39 am
These beauties were in abundance on April 2nd in the Martha Sundquist State Forest, and I would love to know what they are.
Thank you for your time,
Signature: R.G. Marion

Puddling Lycaean Blues
Puddling Lycaean Blues

Dear R.G. Marion,
The best we can do at this moment is to provide a subfamily.  These are Lycaean Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae, and according to BugGuide they might be considered as a tribe.
  There are many similar looking species and subspecies classified as Blues.  The Lycaean Blues were among author Vladimir Nabokov’s favorite butterflies, and he wrote about clouds of Blues gathering at puddles in the spring, exactly what your image documents.

Thank you so much for your timely reply; it is most appreciated.

Letter 28 – Silver Studded Blue from Slovakia, we believe


Butterfly ID requested
July 10, 2009
Butterfly ID requested
Can someone tell me what this butterfly is? I photographed it in June near Zilnia, Slovakia in Europe. Both photos are of the insect. Thank you.
Jim Zuckerman
Zilnia, Slovakia

Silver Studded Blue
Silver Studded Blue

Dear Jim,
What we could say before doing any research is that your butterfly is a Gossamer Winged Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae and the subfamily Polyommatinae.  Now that we have a brand new computer, our internet research is so much faster.  We quickly tentatively identified your butterfly as a Silver Studded Blue, Plebejus (Plebeius) argus, on the Butterflies of Europe and North Africa website.  The bright blue coloration indicates a male.  Sadly, we cannot link directly to the image on the previous site, but the Butterflies of Norway site has mounted specimens.  They are not as pretty as the living specimens.

Silver Studded Blue
Silver Studded Blue

Letter 29 – Silvery Blue


Subject: Butterfly
Location: Cooper Mt. Washington County, Oregon
May 9, 2014 8:37 am
My friends and I took photos of this butterfly and are having trouble finding the species. There was a pair in a meadow at Cooper Mt., Washington County, Oregon, about 500 ft. elevation. We are using The Guide to Butterflies of Oregon and Washington by William Neill. We looked at field marks and host plants. Any information you can give us will be greatly appreciated.
We are birders, with basic wildflower ID abilities. We are working to add butterflies and bugs to our repertoire.
Thank you,
Signature: Judi Dodson

Silvery Blue
Silvery Blue

Dear Judi,
Your butterfly is one of the Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae and we believe we have correctly identified it as a Silvery Blue, Glaucopsyche lygdamus, thanks to the images posted to BugGuide, where it is described as having:  “Underside gray-brown; both wings with row of white-ringed, round black spots. “

Thank you so much.  And I appreciate the link to BugGuide.  We will definitely be using their information. I’ll also be sending the link to What’s That Bug to my friends.
Judi Dodson

Letter 30 – Silvery Blue, we believe


Subject:  butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  lane county oregon
Date: 09/20/2017
Time: 07:44 PM EDT
Rocky cliff face by a large reservoir in full sun April 28
How you want your letter signed:  Dave Stone

Probably Silvery Blue

Dear Dave,
This looks to us like a Silvery Blue,
Glaucopsyche lygdamus, a species that is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 31 – Spring Azure Female, we think


Blue (Subfamily Polyommatinae) Butterfly Indentifcation Help
Hello to the Bugman and friends,
I took this picture about a year ago. I believe it is a member of the Gossamer Wing Butterflies (Family Lycaenidae), specifically of the Blues (Subfamily Polyommatinae). I am unsure of the species though. If it helps to narrow down specific species, this picture was taken in Bellingham, Washington. I saw a posting about similar species on your wonderful website already, but the picture was of a newly hatched specimen. Hopefully my attached picture would be of some help. Thank you for the help.

Hi Jonathan,
What a beautiful photo. We believe this is a female Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon, but the Blues are very difficult for us to distinguish from one another. It might take a genius like Vladimir Nabokov to disect their tiny genitalia to be certain.

Letter 32 – Two Butterflies from Chile: A White and a Fritillary


Three unknowns from Torres del Paine, Chile
December 6, 2009
I’ve looked through the categories I can think of for these three (moths, butterflies and beetles) and don’t see matches nor have I found them online with basic searching. All were photographed in Torres del Paine national park, Chile and were unharmed.
The white moth/butterfly was prolific. The orange one was spotted only twice. Both were about 2″ wide x 1″ tall.
The beetle was seen twice and this is the better shot. In both, there’s a bright orange/red spot on that one leg. Eggs perhaps? They were about 3/4″ long x 1/4″ wide Jess, Minnesota
Torres del Paine, Chile

Unidentified Gossamer Winged Butterfly
White Butterfly

Hi Jess,
Based on the striped antennae, we are quite certain the white butterfly is one of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae.

Unidentified Gossamer Winged Butterfly

The orange butterfly appears to be one of the Brush Footed Butterflies in the family Nymphalidae.  It might take us hours to properly identify the species.  Perhaps one of our readers has a bit of time and can assist in this matter.  We strongly recommend that you post a comment to your own letter and if a reader posts a comment with an identification, you will receive a notification.

Unknown Brush Footed Butterfly, we think

Update by Karl
Hi Daniel:
The white butterfly is actually a White (family Pieridae: subfamily Pierinae) in the genus Tatochila. There are at least seven species in Chile and reference photos are hard to find. I believe it could be T. theodice, but they all look quite similar and there seems to be some disagreement about the taxonomic placement of some of the species (Tatochila vs. Hypsochila).
The orange butterfly is a type of Fritillary that is probably in the genus Yramea (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae: Argynnini). Species within this genus look very similar to the old world genus Issoria in which they were formerly placed. Yramea is now considered a separate genus restricted to the high Andes and south temperate region of South America. Again, there are about half a dozen representative species in Chile, but as far as I can tell, the one in Jess’s photo looks most similar to Y. cytheris. Regards.

Another Update forwarded by Eric Eaton
At a guess the Frtiillary is a yramea. It is very reminiscent of Issoria species which is the European sister genus.
Perhaps someone else can follow from there.
Neil Jones

Another Update forwarded by Eric Eaton
I have at hand ‘The butterflies of Chile’ by Peña & Ugarte (1996). The upper photos are very close to drawings of Hypsochila microdice (Blanchard, 1852) in the book, and the lower photo to drawings of Yramea, possibly Y. cytheris (Drury, 1773) in the book. Greetings,

Letter 33 – Unknown Caterpillar from South Africa emerges as Common Fig Tree Blue


Subject: Larva? Worm?
Location: South Africa Pretoria
December 28, 2012 9:01 am
Hello, i have difficulty identifying this insect and do not seem to find any information on it if can you kindly help me it will be of great help.
Signature: summer

Common Fig Tree Blue Caterpillar

Dear summer,
The best we can do without any research is that this is a Caterpillar, and we are not even certain if it will become a butterfly or moth though if we had to wager a guess, our first inclination is that it might be the caterpillar of a Slug Moth in the family Limacodidae.  Prior to any research, we are hoping to get additional information from you.  Where was it found?  What plant was it feeding upon?  When did you find it?  Please supply us with additional information which should aid our research.

Common Fig Tree Blue Caterpillar

Hello Daniel,
It feeds mainly on the growth points of the Ficus burkei and F.natalensis and have seen some leave damage but not that much and during the day they hide under the leaves and they are active at night, the location of it is in South Africa Pretoria or the highveld region thanks for the reply much appreciated
Regards, Marco

Update January 17, 2013:  Metamorphosis
Hello Daniel,
The caterpillar turned into this moth shocking to think such a strange caterpillar turns into a beautiful moth.
Kind regards

Common Fig Tree Blue

Hi Marco,
Thanks so much for the update.  We never expected this.  Our initial thought is that this must be a Skipper in the family Hesperidae, but the caterpillar looks more like a Gossamer Winged Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.  Alas, our initial searches produced nothing and now we have no more time this morning to research this, but perhaps one of our readers will have some idea.

Karl identifies the Fig Tree Blue
Hi Daniel and Summer:
Like you, Daniel, I thought this was probably a Lycaenidae butterfly when the caterpillar was initially posted, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up. With this update posting I can say that I am fairly certain that it is a variety of Hairstreak or Strong Blue (Lycaenidae: Theclinae) in the genus Myrina. According to the African Butterfly Database the genus consists of only five genera, two of which (including three subspecies) occur in South Africa; the Lesser or Scarce Fig-tree Blue (Myrina dermaptera), and the Common Fig-tree Blue (Myrina silenus). The Common Fig-tree Blue looks like a closer match to me, and the caterpillar is a very good match as well. It really is a lovely butterfly. The “Field Guide: Butterflies of Southern Africa” has some good information about both species (page 182). Regards.  Karl

Letter 34 – Common Brown Ringlet from Australia


Brown-orange Australian Butterfly
Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 12:40 PM
The attached photo shows a brown-orange butterfly. It is the only photo I have of it. The antennae are striped and the horns appear to be bright orange at the tip. There seems to be a dark band across the top of the head, surrounded by a white patch. The neck is rufous. Clearly the spread wings provide the most obvious clues to its id. The forewings are plain brown. The hindwings are brown with a prominent orange pattern and an orange, black and white “eyespot”.
I suspect this is a skipper common to the northeastern region of Australia because I saw several. Wish I could provide more info but this is all I have for you. Any help you can give me will be appreciated.
Brown-orange Australian Butterfly
Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia

Unknown Gossamer Wing Butterfly
Unknown Gossamer Wing Butterfly

In our opinion, this is a Gossamer Wing Butterfly in the family Lycaenidae which includes the Blues and Coppers, but we cannot find a matching specimen on the Brisbane Insects web site. We will continue to try to get an accurate species identification.

This is a common Brown Ringlet, Hypocysta metirius. It is found on the East coast of Australia, Queensland to Victoria.
See: http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_nymphs/CommonBrownRinglet.htm

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Marine Blue


Subject: marine blue
Location: Los Angeles (Highland Park)
June 17, 2014 12:42 pm
Dear Bugman,
Here is a tiny butterfly from my garden. I saw a flash of bluish-purple as she was flying, then she landed on my lantana bush. I was able to get fairly close, so I thought you might like this picture. I think she is a marine blue.
Thank you!
Signature: Moira

Marine Blue
Marine Blue

Dear Moira,
We agree with your identification of this Marine Blue,
 Leptotes marina.  Since plumbago, a food plant for the caterpillar, is commonly planted in southern California, the Marine Blue is quite common even in the city.  See BugGuide for more information on the Marine Blue.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Gossamer Winged Butterfly

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