|scientific name Lycaeides melissa |
common name Melissa Blue
Native prairie grasslands.
At least two broods annually, the flight peaking in June and again in August.
This blue has a complete row of orange spots on the hindwing underside, extending onto the forewing (although sometimes faint here). In prairie habitats, could be confused with Icaricia acmon, I. shasta, or Euphilotes ancilla, which also have hindwing orange spots. In Melissa, however, the orange spots extend onto the forewing. In the southern foothills region, this species can also be confused with the Northern Blue (L. idas). In Melissa, the orange spots are wider and the black crescents capping the orange spots are flatter, resulting in a more banded appearance. Melissa females always have a solid band of orange on the upperside, while the strongest-marked idas females have a row of orange crescents rather than a solid band. It is best to appreciate these differences by looking at more than one individual; uncertain specimens must be dissected for positive identification (see Guppy & Shepard 2001). The specimens illustrated in "Alberta Butterflies" (Bird et al. 1995) as Melissa are misidentified Northern Blues (L. idas).
Balint and Johnson (1997) in their revision of polyomatine blues place Lycaeides as a subgenus within the larger genus Plebejus.
No data avaialbale for Alberta. In the US, the eggs overwinter, and are pale green when first laid, turning white. The larva is green to white-green with a pale lateral line, and pupae are yellow-green (Scott 1986). Larvae are tended by ants (Scott 1986).
No immediate threats.
Larvae reportedly feed on a variety of legumes including lupines (Lupinus spp.), astragalus (Astragalus spp.), and wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). There are no published foodplant records for western Canada.
Occurs from southern BC south to northern Mexico, east through the Great Plains. There are isolated populations (the endangered Karner Blue, L. melissa samuelis) in the northeastern US and extreme southeastern Ontario (Layberry et al. 1998, Opler 1999).
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