Miami Blue (Hemiargus thomasi Clench)
Wing span: 7/8 - 1 1/8 inches (2.2 - 3 cm).
Identification: Upperside mostly blue; female hindwing with orange spot at lower edge. Underside of both sexes with 2 eyespots on the outer margin and a wide white submarginal band.
Life history: Eggs are laid singly on flower buds of host plant. Caterpillars feed on flowers and may live inside the pods, eating seeds.
Flight: Throughout the year in Florida. Adults are in reproductive diapause during the winter generation from December-April.
Caterpillar hosts: Balloon vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum) in the Sapindaceae family, possibly snowberry (Chiococca alba), and various legumes.
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Openings and edges of tropical hardwood hammocks.
Range: Florida Keys and West Indies. Formerly in southern peninsular Florida.
Conservation: Loss of habitat due to urbanization has extirpated this butterfly on the Florida mainland. All Florida Keys populations should be protected.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range (21 to 100 occurrences). (Threatened throughout its range).
Management needs: Preserve habitats of balloon vine and nectar sources.
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.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann