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  (whites and sulphurs) 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)


Arctic Blue (Agriades glandon)

This butterfly hangs out in high mountain meadows or above treeline.


Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis or exile)

This is North America's smallest butterfly. The July 2020 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 other images show the the wings partly open.


Echo Azure (Celastrina echo)


Western Tailed-Blue (Cupido amyntula)


Reakirt's Blue (Echinargus isola)


Square-Spotted Blue (Euphilotes battoides)

To help ID this species, notice how the wing fringes are checked.


Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)

In one image, a silvery blue is resting on the toe of my shoe—showing how tiny these butterflies are.


Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)


Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

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


Lupine Blue (Plebejus or Icaricia lupini)

It's common to see both acmon blues (Plebejus or Icaricia acmon) and alpine blues (P. or I. lupini) listed as occurring in New Mexico. Following the PEEC's lead, I'm treating any such candidates as lupine blues. To tell males from females, you need them to open their wings; fortunately, they do that a lot.


Greenish Blue (Plebejus saepiolus)

Hairstreaks (Theclinae)


Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

If a resting butterfly in New Mexico has closed wings with green undersides, chances are it's a juniper hairstreak of the siva subspecies. 


Sandia Hairstreak (Callophrys mcfarlandi)

The Sandia hairstreak is New Mexico's official butterfly (we have an official everything in this state).  Notice the obvious second band of white near the hindwings' back edges. One reason to believe that my caterpillar photo is of a Sandia hairstreak is that it's on the right host plant (beargrass).


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)

The tops of female gray hairstreaks' abdomens are are all gray. The tops of the males' abdomens have some orange near the end.