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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Marine Blue - Leptotes marina

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status

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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Only two observations in BAMONA - at northern limit of species distribution.
General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002) Forewing 1.2-1.3 cm. Uppersurface of male with both wings purplish toward bases, females without white, both sexes with one or more dark spots visible on trailing edge of hindwing; undersurface zebra-striped, chalky-white between concentric gray-brown bands, with a series of submarginal chevrons and a pair of blue-black spots on hindwing.

Many fights throughout the year in the south, mostly March to October, May to October northward (Scott 1986). Mainly March to October, all year near Mexican border (Glassberg 2001). Late May to late October in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late May to early August in Oregon (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005), early August for Idaho record (Austin and Fothergill 2006), mid-October for first Montana record (FLMNH Lepidopteristis' Society database).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by the undersurface zebra-striped, chalky-white between concentric gray-brown bands, with a series of submarginal chevrons and a pair of blue-black spots on hindwing.

Range Comments
Resident from Guatemala north to southwestern US, from southern California east to southern Texas. An emigrant north to central Oregon and east to the Great Lakes region (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002); to at least 2075 m elevation in California (Shapiro 1974), 1310 m to 2590 m elevation in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), to at least 1580 m elevation in Oregon (Pyle 2002), to at least 1694 m elevation in Idaho (Austin and Fothergill 2006). In Montana, unreported prior to 2002 (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993) when first documented at Billings, Yellowstone County at about 975 m elevation (FLMNH Lepidopteristis' Society database), since reported in Pondera County. Common to abundant near Mexican border, decreasing immigrant northward (Glassberg 2001).

Migratory; emigrates northward and up in elevation. Extralimital individuals in the north do not survive to establish new populations (Shapiro 1974; Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002).

Mesquite thorn scrub, coniferous forest, tropical lowlands, urban gardens, alfalfa fields, waste areas, open areas (Scott 1986; Brown 1990; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat not described for Montana, but probably similar (urban gardens and agricultural lands, especially alfalfa).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Acacia, Amorpha, Astragalus, Dalea, Dolichos, Galactia, Glycyrrhiza, Lathyrus, Lotus, Lysiloma, Medicago, Phaseolus, Plumbago, Prosopis, and Wisteria (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Brown 1990). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Apocynum, Baccharis, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Eriogonum, Geranium, Medicago, Melilotus, Phaseolus, Polygonum, Schinus, Trifolium) and mud (Shapiro 1974; Brown 1990; Austin and Fothergill 2006; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on host plant flower buds. Larvae build no nest, feed on flower buds, developing seeds, rarely on petals, never on host plant leaves, are closely associated with ants (Iridomyrmex humilis reported in urban California), depart host plant to pupate in soil or litter. Adults eclose (emerge from pupa) in about 7 days (Scott 1986, 1992; Brown 1990). Males patrol erratically throughout the day in valley bottoms near host plant in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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Marine Blue — Leptotes marina.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from