Rita Dotted-Blue (Euphilotes rita [Barnes & McDunnough])
Wing span: 11/16 - 7/8 inches (1.7 - 2.2 cm).
Identification: Upperside of male bright lilac-blue with dark medium-wide borders; corner of hindwing has a small orange patch and small marginal spots. Upperside of female brown with broad orange marginal band. Underside of both sexes off-white with distinct black spots; orange band on hindwing margin continuous.
Life history: Rita Dotted-Blues stay near their host plants. Males patrol around the plants all day to find females. Eggs are laid singly on flowers of the host. Caterpillars feed on flowers and fruits, and are tended by ants.
Flight: One flight from July to late September.
Caterpillar hosts: Wild buckwheat species including Wright's buckwheat, Effuse Buckwheat, and others.
Adult food: Nectar from Eriogonum flowers.
Habitat: Arid areas such as desert foothills and shortgrass prairie.
Range: Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Also found in northern Mexico.
Conservation: Some populations are of concern because of limited habitat or threats to habitats.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3, G4 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range OR Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. Some subspecies are T2 or T2,T3.
Management needs: Maintain habitat integrity. Monitor invasion by exotic weeds, cattle grazing [removal of cattle grazing may be detrimental], and disruption by off-road vehicles.
Bailowitz, R. A., and J. P. Brock. 1991. Butterflies of southeastern Arizona. Sonoran Arthropod Studies, Inc., Tucson, Arizona. 342 pages. Emmel, T.C., editor. 1998. Systematics of Western North American Butterflies. Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Fla. 878 pp. Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 442 pages. Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO.
Author: Paul A. Opler