Mission Blue (Aricia icarioides missionensis)
The Mission Blue is a subspecies of the Boisduval’s Blue Butterfly and has been extremely rare, with their population decreasing dramatically especially because of habitat loss. These are tiny to small-size butterflies, with the males being more attractive to the butterfly enthusiasts, having a silver-blue to violet-blue coloration (as opposed to the brown females). The flight period of the adults lasts from March to June.
- Family: Lycaenidae
- Genus: Aricia
- Scientific Name: Aricia icarioides missionensis
Description and Identification
The mature larva has a light green coloration as an adaptation to help it camouflage effectively within the greens. It has a segmented body with diagonal white bars on each of the segments. It is very small in size and can rarely be seen.
The mission blue chrysalis has a light green color with a thin black line towards the head region from where it hangs downwards from one point, remaining attached to the underside of the leaves of the host plant.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the wings in the male display a light blue coloration, whereas the female shows a rather brownish hue with some blue. Both the sexes have dark wing edges. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the wings exhibits an off-white hue with a pair of rows of black spots with irregular shapes.
Average wingspan: 21–33 mm (0.83–1.3 in)
Flight pattern: Very fast and erratic
Light cyan-white with a spherical shape and a rough, irregular surface. It is laid one at a time on the host plant.
|Distribution||Only in and around California, USA|
|Lifespan of adults||Around one week|
|Host plants||Only the plants from the lupine family|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar especially those of the sunflower family|
Did You Know?
- The US federal government had declared the mission blue butterfly as endangered back in June 1976, while the NatureServe has enlisted it as ‘Critically Imperiled’ (category ‘T1’).