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TaxonomyBrowse
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Species Plebejus melissa - Melissa Blue

Melissa Blue - Plebejus melissa - female Melissa Blue - Plebejus melissa Plebejus melissa - male Melissa Blue? - Plebejus melissa Melissa Blue 4056 & 4058 - Plebejus melissa - male Melissa Blue - Plebejus melissa - male Karner Blue Butterfly  - Plebejus melissa Female Orange Bordered Blue - Plebejus melissa - female
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Lycaenidae (Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks, Harvesters)
Subfamily Polyommatinae (Blues)
Genus Plebejus
Species melissa (Melissa Blue)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Lycaeides melissa
BugGuide follows the classification of Opler and Warren and All-Leps in lumping Lycaeides with the genus Plebejus (see discussion in Taxonomy Forum)
Numbers
5 subspecies listed at All-Leps, of which only subspecies samuelis occurs in the east
Size
wingspan 22-35 mm in United States (nearctica.com); 18-28 mm in Canada (CBIF)
Identification
Adult: above, female brown with blue tinge; male blue with narrow dark border. Red-orange submarginal row is continuous. In the eastern subspecies samuelis (Karner Blue) this row is divided into separate spots. Below, continuous black margin along outer margin of both wings.

Larva: body green with darker green dorsal stripe and pale lateral stripe; surface covered with short hairs
Range
"The small, isolated colonies of the Eastern population (subspecies samuelis) occur from southern New Hampshire and central New York west to Wisconsin. The western population (subspecies melissa) is found in the Intermountain West from Canada to Baja California, plains, and prairies east to northwestern Iowa and southwestern Minnesota." - butterfliesandmoths.org
Habitat
in the west, subspecies melissa occurs in open prairies and sagebrush, occasionally in dry wood edges and clearings
in the east, subspecies samuelis is found in oak savannas, oak-pine barrens, and other open areas with sandy soil
Season
adults of subspecies melissa fly from mid-May to October in the west (two or three broods)
adults of subspecies samuelis fly from mid-May to early August in the east (two broods)
Food
larvae of subspecies samuelis feed only on Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis)
larvae of the other subspecies feed on several Lupinus species and other members of the Pea family (Fabaceae)
larvae are tended by ants who feed on the larvae's sugary secretions
Life Cycle
eggs are laid on or near the hostplant; adults live for one or two weeks; two or three generations per year; overwinters as an egg or newly-emerged larva
See Also
Karner Blue, the federally endangered eastern subspecies of Plebejus melissa
Internet References
pinned adult images of male and female, plus common name reference, description, biology, flight season, larval and adult food, US distribution map (nearctica.com)
live adult images by Paul Opler, plus the same text and map as the nearctica.com site above (butterfliesandmoths.org)
pinned adult image plus description of adult and larva, subspecies, distribution, similar species, larval foodplants, flight season, habitat, remarks (Butterflies of Canada, CBIF)