Did You Know?

Courtesy Of Skidaway Audubon

Did you know  there are butterflies whose wings measure less than an inch across? The Ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus) is a delicate, little butterfly with blue wings trimmed with white fringes and an orange-rimmed black spot on the underside of its hindwing.

Ceraunus blues thrive in sunny, open spaces. They tend to flutter low to the ground in fields, yards, parks, and along roadsides.These butterflies are found throughout the southern United States and south into South America. Landings resident Fitz Clarke photographed the one pictured below at Sparrow Field.

The tiny butterfly feeds on the nectar of blue porterweed, Spanish needle, southern frogfruit, and powderpuff plants, and lays its blue-green, flat eggs on indigo and pea plants several times a year. According to the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Ceraunus caterpillars excrete a sweet, chemical, liquid that attracts ants. The ants drink the liquid and defend the caterpillar against predators and parasites.

It is a common species, yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists it as threatened. Why? Because they are nearly identical to a truly threatened species, the rare Miami blue butterfly. As the Florida Wildflower Foundation notes, “Rather than risk anyone trying to collect the Ceraunus blue and getting the Miami blue instead, collecting either of these butterflies is prohibited, even for scientific or educational purposes.”

The Ceraunus blue also resembles another butterfly, the Cassius blue. However, the Ceraunus has only one large spot on its hindwing, while the very common Cassius has two, making it easy to distinguish them. To learn more about the important role butterflies can play in pollination, visit Sparrow Field, located off Bartram Road, or visit SkidawayAudubon.org. The website also includes information about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and how to become an Audubon donor.




Photo by Fitz Clarke

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit landings.org to read the original article.