My neighbors have left some pretty wildflowers to grow for short periods in their front yard, and I hope they leave these for a while longer – because they are making tiny blue butterflies very happy.
If you’re not looking, you might miss these little beauties except for their fluttering flashes of blue. They are typically smaller than an inch across.
What I didn’t realize until I got out the macro lens and really started looking closely is that there were two varieties of tiny blue butterflies enjoying these flowers, which are a type of fleabane – perhaps eastern daisy fleabane? There are several varieties of fleabane native to Florida. The white flowers on these delicate plants are barely bigger than a typical thumb tack. I included a bee photo for scale.
Ceraunus blue butterflies are common throughout Florida, according to the University of Florida. They have a distinctive dark dot ringed by orange on the underside of their wings. The top of the wing is a pretty blue – I only got one of these to open for me for long enough to get shots of this enchanting iridescent blue, and the butterfly appeared to have a damaged wing.
The cassius blue is more cold-sensitive and can’t survive northern Florida winters. It has two beautiful iridescent dark blue “eye” spots on the underside of each wing. Apparently you can tell male from female from the coloring of the tops of the wings, but I didn’t get to see these beauties unfold their wings except in flight, when they were too quick for my camera. However, some had whiter bodies and wings than others, as you can see in the photo gallery below, and I suspect the lighter-colored ones may be the females.
In the past, I’ve seen tiny blue butterflies around my plumbago, too, which are making a comeback after a severe trimming. They can play host to the cassius blue. I’ll be looking even more closely the next time I see them to see which butterfly is paying us a visit.
Roll over an image below to see its caption, and click on any photo below to start a slide show of larger images.