A few New Mexico butterflies: Lycaenidae

(Gossamer-winged Butterflies)


The following photographs represent my chance encounters with butterflies. If you're looking for a systematic photographic survey, I recommend the Butterflies of New Mexico web site maintained by Joe Schelling. Joe has helped me with multiple IDs.


The images are organized alphabetically by taxonomic level. Unlike moths, virtually all butterflies all fall into a single superfamily, the Papilionoidea, so my taxonomic breakdown begins with a separate page for each family. (The other pages cover the Hesperiidae (skippers), Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies), Papilionidae (swallowtails), and Pieridae.) The images below are organized by subfamily,  genus, and species. When you encounter a slide show, hover your cursor over the images to control them. If you see an error, please contact me via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

Coppers (Lycaeninae)


Tailed Copper (Lycaena arota)

Blues (Polyommatinae)


Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis or exile)

This is North America's smallest butterfly. The first three images show the same individual, which didn't leave as I zoomed in. Finally I pinched loose the dead branch tip where it sat for a better look. At that point it began moving—a little. After I took my photos, I very carefully put it back on the bush. The fourth image, taken a few days later, shows the wings partly open.


Reakirt's Blue (Echinargus isola)


Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

The upper sides of this species' wings are blue, hence the name. When at rest they always keep their wings folded, so that trait isn't readily apparent.


Take a close look at the photo from August 2021. In the next flower over a tiny white spider (Misumena vatia?) is trying to enjoy its catch, an even tinier bee or wasp, as the not-as-tiny marine blue tries to decide whether to hop on over.

Hairstreaks (Theclinae)


Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

At first I thought this was a Sandia Hairstreak, New Mexico's official butterfly. Both species have iridescent green wings, but the Juniper Hairstreak lacks an obvious second band of white at the wings' far edges. This one was sipping nectar from a Perky Sue.


Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus)

I saw this Colorado hairstreak with a couple of expert butterfly hunters, and wondered why they were so excited to see it. What I didn't realize at the time is that the upper sides of this butterfly's wings are a gorgeous purple.


Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)