Eastern Tailed-Blue - Cupido comyntas
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.1-1.4 cm. Tailed. Uppersurface of male iridescent blue, usually one orange spot at base of tail; female brown, with two orange spots at base of tail. Undersurface of hindwing pale gray with distinct rows of black spots, black bar at end of cell, 2 larger orange spots on outer margin (one at base of tail).
Several flights; May to October in the north, February to November on the Gulf Coast, mid-May to mid-September in Colorado, March to September in California (Scott 1986). Continouously brooded during warm weather (Glassberg 2001). Early April to early August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), mid April to mid-June and July to September in Oregon (Warren 2005), mid-June to mid-July in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).
Best determined externally by the undersurface of hindwing pale gray with distinct rows of black spots, black bar at end of cell, 2 larger orange spots (not one as in C. amyntula) on outer margin (one at base of tail).
Throughout eastern North America from southern Canada to the Gulf states, west through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma to central Colorado; isolated populations (probably introduced) through the Pacific Coast states from southern California to Canada (southeastern British Columbia). Also western Texas, western New Mexico and southeastern Arizona south through Mexico to Costa Rica (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002); 1310 m to 2134 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978), sea level to 1219 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, no records through 1993 (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993), one report sometime since (apparently lacking details) from Mineral County. Locally rare to locally uncommon in the west (Glassberg 2001).
Open weedy sites, lowland riparian areas, vacant lots, canals, fallow fields, riverbanks, moist meadows, woodland clearings (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.
Larval food plants diverse, include Astragalus, Baptisia, Desmodium, Galactia, Lotus, Lathyrus, Lespedeza (several species), Lupinus, Medicago, Melilotus, Phaseolus, Trifolium (several species), and Vicea (several species) (Scott 1986, 1999, 2006; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Ammannia, Arnoglossum, Asclepias, Bolonia, Cardamine, Ceanothus, Cercis, Cicuta, Cirsium, Claytonia, Coreopsis, Crotalaria, Dalia, Delphinium, Erigeron, Eryngium, Eupatorium, Euthamia, Fragaria, Geranium, Lespedeza, Lindernia, Lobelia, Lotus, Ludwigia, Lycopus, Medicago, Melilotus, Nothoscordum, Oxalis, Phyla, Polygonum, Potentilla, Pycanthemum, Ratibida, Rudbeckia, Scrophularia, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, Trifolium, Triodanus, Teucrium, Verbena, Veronicastrum, Vicea, Zizia), blood, and mud (Scott 1986, 2014; Tooker et al. 2002).
Females lay eggs singly on host flowers, buds, stems, sometimes leaves (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006). Eggs hatch in about 5 days, L1 and L2 instars feed on leaf buds, undersides of leaves, may develop rapidly to L4 instar 10 days post egg-hatch, pupation 20 days post egg-hatch. Adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in 8 days. Larvae build no nest, skeletonize leaves, are regularly attended by ants (particularly Formica pilicornis), overwinter as nearly-mature (L4 instar?) larvae (Scott 1979; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day low to the ground near host plant (Scott 1975b, 1986).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Brown, F.M. 1957. Colorado Butterflies. Proceedings; Numbers Three through Seven. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Co.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Tooker, J.F., P.F. Reagel, and L.M. Hanks. 2002. Nectar sources of day-flying lepidoptera of central Illinois. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 95(1): 84-96.
- Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, their taxonomy, distribution, and biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
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