Silvery Blue

 

” The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”  ~ George Carlin

The Silvery Blue, Glaucopsyche lygdamus, is a small bright iridescent blue butterfly found across North America. They are considered to be a common species and fairly abundant.

Their wingspan is approximately 18-28 mm. The upper side of the wing is a bright silvery blue in the male of the species, with a dark border, while the upper side of the female’s wing is more of a dull blue grey with a much wider border. For both male and female, the underside of the wing is grey with a single row of dark round spots bordered by white. These spots will vary in size depending on the region.

There are a number of subspecies of Glaucopsyche lygdamus, but it is the subspecies couperi that is found in Canada, and it has been reported in every canadian province and territory. It can be found in meadows, woodland, sand dunes and on roadsides, feeding on a variety of plants such as vetches, clover, lupine, alfalfa and flowers. They are often found in damp places.

The eggs of this species are laid on flower buds, where the newly hatched caterpillars will be able to feed on the opening flowers. The color of the caterpillar will depend on the food material they are consuming but all have white hairs.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  ~ Unknown

Silvery blue butterfly caterpillars have a symbiotic relationship with ants. They possess what is called a “honey gland.” This gland secretes a sweet liquid that attracts ants, which then feed on the liquid and offer protection to the caterpillar.

This particular Silvery Blue male is one I found on the weekend. He was flying from flower to flower, and did not spook easily when I decided to take his picture. I have noticed a few of these around this year. With all the news about eastern Canada getting ten times more butterflies than we typically do, I hope to see more of them.

 “But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.”
~Robert Frost, “Blue-Butterfly Day”

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