Marine Blue (Leptotes marina [Reakirt])
Wing span: 7/8 - 1 1/8 inches (2.2 - 2.9 cm).
Identification: Upperside blue; male with purple tinge, female with no white. Underside of forewing with unbroken pale brown bands from costa to inner margin.
Life history: Males patrol to find females. Eggs are laid singly on flower buds of the host plant; caterpillars eat flowers and seedpods.
Flight: April-September in the north, all through the year in South Texas and southern California.
Caterpillar hosts: Leadwort (Plumbago) and many legumes including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), milkvetch (Astragalus), and mesquite (Prosopis).
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Subtropical and southwestern open areas including mesquite scrub, city gardens, desert, alfalfa fields, and waste areas.
Range: Southern California east through the Southwest, Mexico and Baja California to Guatemala. Wanders and temporarily colonizes north to Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
Conservation: Not usually required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.