Gossamer-Winged (Lycaenidae)

The members of the Lycaenidae family, alternately known as the gossamer-winged are the second largest group of butterflies after the Nymphalidae. Comprising of approximately 30% of the butterfly species, this clan has four subfamilies, namely coppers (Lycaeninae), harvesters (Miletinae), blues (Polyommatinae) and hairstreaks( Theclinae).

Butterflies In This Family

Juniper Hairstreak Colorado Hairstreak El Segundo Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak Fender’s Blue Common Blue
Mission Blue Red-banded Hairstreak Purple Hairstreak
Adonis Blue American Copper Holly Blue
Karner Blue Green Hairstreak Mazarine Blue
Silvery Blue Large Blue Gray Hairstreak
Small Blue Summer Azure Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure Common Copper Miami Blue
Atala

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The caterpillar is mostly red or green with spiny projections.

Pupa

They are small and round-shaped with a silken girdle, situated near the ground. The chrysalis may even possess a nectar organ, which helps it to be cared for by ants.

Adult

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: They are small-sized butterflies being less than 5cm in size, having a bright coloration as well as a metallic gloss. The wing colors differ in accordance to the subfamilies. The blues would have this shade on their wing’s upper surface, with the color being darker in females than their male counterparts. The coppers have a brown or orange body with dark markings. The hairstreaks are brown or grey with colorful markings on their wing’s undersides, while t7hey also possess two to three small-sized tails on the hind wings.

Average wingspan: 1 to 3cm (0.4 to 1.2 inches)

Flight pattern: Fast

Eggs

They are round, white, and small in size.

Quick Facts

Distribution Different parts of the United States of America like Alberta, British Columbia, northern Saskatchewan, southern Maine
Habitat In and close to evergreen forests
Lifespan of adults Approximately three weeks
Host plants Lupines, Gambel oak, California juniper, red cedar, Utah juniper, and horseshoe vetch
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know

  • Gossamer refers to something elegant and delicate, and these butterflies have been named so as they have soft, fragile wings.