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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Greenish Blue
Icaricia saepiolus  EDWARDS, 1863
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - POLYOMMATINAE
Icaricia saepiolus insulanus male, British Columbia, Canada   Martin Gascoigne-Pees
Introduction
This species has at various times been classified under several different genera including Plebejus, Cupido, Lycaena, Aricia and Icaricia. Phylogenetics is not an exact science, so different workers reach different conclusions about the evolution and relationships between various species.
Currently some authorities place saepiolus 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 saepiolus 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, cotundra and 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 cotundra, lupini and some subspecies of icarioides and saepiolus have a metallic blue sheen but this is not as intense or extensive as in the males.
Icaricia saepiolus is found in eastern Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta and in the Rocky Mountain states of the USA.
Habitats
This species breeds in moist meadows, streamsides and pastures, and on flowery open grasslands.
Lifecycle
The egg is greenish-white and is laid singly on the flowers of Trifolium and Lotus ( Fabaceae ). The larva hibernates in the 2nd or 3rd instar and resumes feeding in spring when it is attended by ants. When fully grown the larva is green, greenish-white or reddish-brown. All of these morphs can be found together on a single plant but it is not known whether they are variants produced by a single female, or the progeny of different females.
Adult behaviour

Aggregations of saepiolus males can often be found imbibing moisture from muddy patches. When not feeding they patrol constantly in search of females. Mated pairs can often be found basking with their wings held in the characteristic three-quarters open position.

Icaricia saepiolus insulanus male, British Columbia, Canada   Martin Gascoigne-Pees

 

 

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