Friday, August 31, 2007
Eastern Tailed Blue
The eastern tailed blue, Everes (Cupido) comyntas is one of those tiny butterflies I call 'kickers', for they live their lives skimming just over the ground, feeding on clover, and as you walk through the fields they kick up around your feet. Off they go, fluttering ahead of you through the grass, and every ten feet, another little tailed blue flies up and the two butterflies spiral rapidly around each other, like two tiny shards of glowing, ice-blue glass... in a dance, obviously important to the butterflies but mysterious to me.
It is probably our commonest butterfly, but its tiny size and low-flying habits just don't make much of an impression, until you get your nose down in the clover and look at these little jewels closely. The male, seen at the top, on the outside of its wings is grey-blue with a couple of orange spots, and on the inside (or dorsal surface) it has prominent orange/black spots at the rear of the wings and is bright lavender-blue in the sun, with tiny spurs at the rear. The second picture above is probably also a male, but I'm a little less certain, because of the size of the spurs, which are larger in the female. The females are less blue, showing blue at the base of the dorsal wings in spring, fading to dusky in late summer. Below is a more bluish female, and at bottom a real dark female (which unfortunately has lost her spurs). The males and females are more alike on the underside of their wings.
So, look closely (if you can get one to sit still long enough) at the glowing little blue butterflies flying in the grasses; look for a couple of orange spots at the rear of both wing surfaces, and look for the little spurs at the rear. There is a very similar western tailed blue, found mainly in the western half of the country and the far northern reaches of the upper midwest.
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