Lupine Blue (Icaricia lupini) (Westwood, 1851)

Diagnosis: The male upperside is pale violet blue with narrow black borders and black hindwing spots surrounded by pink. The females are brown, often with a blue sheen; the hindwing spots are surrounded by orange and there is a black bar at the end of the forewing cell. The underside is pale blue grey with two rows of white-ringed black spots; the outer hindwing row has metallic green centres and there are elongated orange spots between the two hindwing rows. Wingspan: 17 to 27 mm.

Subspecies: Four subspecies are recognized, but only two occur in Canada; subspecies spangelatus occurs in Alberta and Saskatchewan and subspecies lutzi occurs in British Columbia.

Range: Icaricia lupini is found throughout the western U.S., reaching Canada from southern Saskatchewan to southern British Columbia, north to the Unity Badlands, Saskatchewan.

Similar Species: The Shasta Blue (I. shasta). [compare images]

Early Stages: The eggs are laid singly on leaves and flowers. The larvae eat leaves, flowers, and fruits, sometimes burrowing inside seedpods, and are attended by ants. They are greyish yellow or pink, with small black spots, a green dorsal stripe and pale oblique stripes. Foodplants are shrubby Polygonaceae, (Eriogonum spp.) and native Fabaceae. They hibernate as half-grown larvae.

Abundance: The Lupine Blue is common and widespread throughout most of its range.

Flight Season: Adults fly from mid-June to early July on the Prairies, and until early August in British Columbia. There is one generation per year.

Habits: Icaricia lupini is found on dry hillsides and meadows, almost any habitat except dense forests. It is not as localized as related species and strays occasionally are found as far east as Minnesota.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.