Nickerbean Blue (Hemiargus ammon [Lucas])
Wing span: 7/8 - 1 1/8 inches (2.2 - 3 cm).
Identification: Upperside mostly bright blue; female hindwing with orange spot at lower edge. Underside of both sexes with only 3 basal black spots. One of two eyespots at corner of outer margin is always capped with red. Very similar to the Miami Blue.
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: Nickerbean (Cesalpinia bahamensis).
Adult food: Flower nectar including that of Croton.
Habitat: Openings and edges of tropical hardwood hammocks.
Range: Big Pine Key, Florida and West Indies.
Conservation: Populatipon on Big Pine Key is only U.S. population and should be protected from extirpation by aerial spraying for mosquitoes.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4G5- Apparently or demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: Preserve habitat of caterpillar plant and nectar sources.
Glassberg, J. 1999. Nickerbean blues arrive in Florida. American butterflies 7(2): 22-25. Smith, D.S., Miller, L.D. and J.Y. Miller. 1994. The butterflies of the West Indies and Florida. Oxford University Press, New York. 264 pages.
Author: Paul A. Opler
State and Regional References:
Gerberg, E.J. and Arnett, R.H., Jr. Florida Butterflies. Natural Science Publications, Inc. Baltimore, MD. 90 pp. Kimball, C.P. 1965. Arthropods of Florida and Neighboring Land Areas - Vol. 1: Lepidoptera of Florida. Div. of Plant Industry, State of Florida Dept. of Agriculture. Gainesville, FL. 363 pp. Minno, M.C. and Emmel, T.C. 1993. Butterflies of the Florida Keys. Scientific Publishers. Gainesville, FL. 168 pp. Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Smith, D.S., Miller, L.D. and Miller, J.Y. 1994. The Butterflies of the West Indies and South Florida. Oxford Univ. Press. Oxford, U.K. 264 pp.