Alternate Common Names:Cushion-Plant Blue, Alpine Blue.
This species ranges from southern Alberta and Saskatchewan south through Montana to Colorado and Utah, and from central Oregon south to central California and Nevada. It occurs in Idaho in the southcentral and southeastern portions of the state.
It typically occurs at higher elevations on rocky slopes, in meadows, forest openings, sagebrush steppe, and prairie hills.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves and flowers of various members of the pea
family (Fabaceae), including lupine (Lupinus spp.), clover (Trifolium
spp.), and milkvetch (Astragalus spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.
Each caterpillar is equipped with a honey gland, also known as a dorsal nectary organ, which emits a sugary solution agreeable to ants. The ants feed on the solution and in turn protect the caterpillar from predators. Also for protection, the caterpillar bears a pair of everscible tubercles or tentacles on the eighth segment. These tubercles are usually housed within the body, but when the caterpillar feels threatened by the approach of a potential predator, they can be pushed out to release a chemical which mimics an ant alarm pheromone. This scent causes the ants to become frenzied and aggressive, and the potential predator takes leave or is eaten by the ants. There is one generation of caterpillars each year throughout its range. Each caterpillar undergoes four stages of growth, or instars. In much of its range, it is a biennial species requiring two years to complete its life cycle. Eggs laid in the summer overwinter and hatch in the spring. The caterpillars then feed and molt during the following summer and overwinter in a physiological state called diapause, emerging in spring to pupate. Adults generally fly from June through July, sometimes flying into September. The butteflies generally fly only a few inches above the ground.
Males actively patrol in search of receptive females. Females lay their eggs singly primarily on the leaves of host plants.
|Idaho Status:||Unprotected nongame species.|
|Global Rank:||G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.|
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