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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Lupine Blue - Icaricia lupini

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.1-1.4 cm. Uppersurface with black borders and marginal blackish band; male deep blue to greenish blue, female brown, sometimes with orange along veins, to mostly blue-green; usually with black spot in forewing disk, black scaling interior to orange lunules in hindwing, orange lunules with black marginal spots or borders. Undersurface variable but usually off-white with pattern of black spots, hindwing with submarginal orange and metallic aurora.

Several flights, March to July most of range; one flight, late June to mid-August in the Sierra Nevada (Scott 1986). Mainly March to September (Glassberg 2001). Early May to mid-September in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late May to early August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), mid-May to early August in Oregon (Warren 2005), mid-May to mid-August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of the uppersurface with relatively broad black borders and marginal blackish band, black scaling interior to orange lunules in hindwing, orange lunules edged with black spots on the outside; undersurface variable but usually off-white with pattern of black spots, hindwing with submarginal orange and metallic aurora.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Uncertain due to similarity with Plebejus acmon and ongoing taxonomic revision (Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Southern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan south to northern Baja California and mainland Mexico, east to western Great Plains in the western Dakota to western Texas (Opler and Wright 1999); the lutzi subspecies 1310 m to 3810 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981); 274 m to 2438 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported across the state in at least 16 counties (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database) to at least 2804 m elevation.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 2

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Oak woodland, chaparral, sagebrush steppe, rocky slopes, roadsides, weedy fields, above treeline in alpine terrain (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, reported from xeric montane meadows dominated by sagebrush (Debinski et al. 2013).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Eriogonum, also Lotus in captivity (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Astragalus, Berteroa, Ceanothus, Cerastium, Chrysothamnus, Clematis, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Glycyrrhiza, Gutierrezia, Heterotheca, Melilotus, Psoralea, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, Taraxacum, Thelesperma), dung, and mud (Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly and primarily on host plant flowers, infrequently on undersides of leaves near inflorescence (Scott 1986, 2006). Eggs hatch in about 7 days (depending on temperature), reach L3 instar in about 15 days post egg-hatch, overwinter (diapause) as L2 or L3 instar. Post-diapause larvae reach L4 in about 27 days, pupate in debris at base of host plant. Larvae solitary, build no nest, are tended by ants (Formica neogagates and Tapinoma sessile in Washington), L1 and L2 instars feed on host plant leaves, flowers, seeds (Scott 1979; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day near host plants in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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Citation for data on this website:
Lupine Blue — Icaricia lupini.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from