Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - LYCAENIDAE
Icaricia icarioides, female, Alberta,
This species has at various times been classified under several
different genera including Plebejus,
Eudemonia, Aricia and
Ultraaricia. Phylogenetics is not an
exact science, so different workers reach different conclusions
about the evolution and relationships between various species.
Currently some authorities place icarioides
in the genus Aricia which comprises of
about 30 species distributed variously across North America, Europe
and temperate Asia. Aricia is split
into several subgroups. The 7 North American species being placed in
the icarioides group, but this subgroup
is elevated to the rank of genus by other authorities. The
icarioides subgroup are therefore
placed in this new genus Icaricia.
The males of most species including icarioides
are metallic blue, with narrow suffused dark brown borders. Most are
otherwise unmarked except for a small dark dash at the end of the
discal cell. In lupini,
neurona however males have a series of orange submarginal
lunules on their upperside hindwings. The females of all species are
brown, and usually have orange lunules on the hindwings. Females of
and some subspecies of icarioides and
saepiolus have a metallic blue sheen
but this is not as intense or extensive as in the males.
The commonest and most widely
distributed species is
. It is found in Mexico, the Rocky Mountain states of the USA, and
in the border region around British Columbia and Alberta.
Icaricia icarioides, Shoshone national
forest, Wyoming, USA ©
This species breeds in alpine meadows and pastures, and on flowery
The egg is greenish-white and is laid singly on the leaves, stems,
flowers and seed pods of Lupinus
( Fabaceae ). The larva hibernates in the 2nd instar amongst leaf
litter at the base of the foodplant, and resumes feeding in spring,
when it is attended by ants. When fully grown the larva is mid-green
with a dark purplish dorsal stripe, and feint whitish diagonal bars
along the back and sides. There is also a dark purplish-red morph of
imbibe mineralised moisture from damp ground, either singly or in
aggregations with other Polyommatines. They patrol constantly in
search of females and are easy to find, but the females are sedentary
in behaviour and harder to locate.
Mated pairs can
sometimes be found basking with wings in the characteristic
three-quarters open position. They remain in copula for about an hour.