Western Pygmy Blue: North America's Smallest Butterfly

World’s Smallest Butterfly
Location: Hawthorne, CA
November 7, 2011 11:27 pm
I was able to identify this tiny guy (about the size of a bottle fly) out at Bugguide today and thought I’d share it with you. It sat for about fifteen minutes feeding on the Bishops Flowers in the back yard. Such a little beauty. I’ve read it is the world’s smallest butterfly.
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Western Pygmy Blue

Hi Anna,
Your photos of a Western Pygmy Blue,
Brephidium exilis, are quite lovely.  Thanks so much for supplying our site with this new species and a statistic as well.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “This is one of the world’s smallest butterflies;  the wing expanse of even the largest individuals barely exceeds 1/2 inch (13 mm). … The Pygmy Blue is seen mainly in wild areas, especially where the salt-loving food plants grow – in alkaline valleys and flats, in coastal salt marshes, and along beach bluffs.”  Jeffrey Glassberg, in his book Butterflies Through Binoculars The West, writes:  “The smallest butterfly in North America.”  According to BugGuide, the Western Pygmy Blue is ” The smallest butterfly in our area.”  We are not certain where your smallest butterfly in the world statistic came from.

Western Pygmy Blue

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the compliment.  I read about it being the smallest in the world in a few places, none of them specialists in butterflies.  I used that subject title because I was sure it would catch your eye!

Ed. Note:  We wonder how it was determined that the Western Pygmy Blue is the smallest butterfly in North America.  Was it an average?  or perhaps, was it the smallest individual documented?

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