Lycaenidae  blues, coppers, hairstreaks, elfins


Some family facts

  1. Bullet  Called “gossamer-winged” butterflies because their wings appear delicate and shimmery.

  2. Bullet  There are about 100 Lycaenid species in North America, 33 in Monterey County.  

  3. Bullet  Three subfamilies occur in Monterey County: Polyommatinae (Blues), Lycaeninae (coppers), and Theclinae (elfins and hairstreaks).

  4. Bullet  Most are small, with a wing span less than 2 inches. 

  5. Bullet  The caterpillars of many blues and hairstreaks are tended by ants, which feed on a sugary solution produced by the larva’s dorsal nectary organ.  The ants protect the caterpillar from predation.


  1. usually round and flattened

  2. some overwinter


  1. small and hairy, shaped like slugs;

  2. some have nectary organ for tending ants

  3. some overwinter                



  1. small and round, located on or near the ground

  2. some emit audible sounds (predator protection?)

  3. some overwinter

  4. some pupae also have nectary organ


Adult characteristics:   

  1. reduced forelegs in males,

  2. full-sized in females

  3. wing scales both pigmented & light-refracting

  4. different wing vein pattern


Adult behaviors:

  1. often found at mud puddles

Lycaenids in Monterey County:


    tailed copper  Lycaena arota  

    gorgon copper Lycaena gorgon   

    purplish copper  lycaena helloides

    great copper Lycaena xanthoides


    great purple hairstreak Atlides halesus

    western green hairstreak  Callophrys perplexa

    coastal green hairstreak Callophrys dumetorum

    Muir’s juniper hairstreak Callophrys gryneus muiri

    Nelson’s juniper hairstreak  Callophrys gryneus nelsoni

    thicket hairstreak  Callophrys spinetorum

    golden hairstreak Habrodais grunus lorquini

    gold-hunter’s hairstreak  Satyrium auretorum

    California hairstreak  Satyrium californica

    hedgerow hairstreak  Satyrium saepium

    sylvan hairstreak  Satyrium sylvinus

    mountain mahogany hairstreak Satyrium tetra

    gray hairstreak Strymon melinus

    western pine elfin  Callophrys eryphon

    Moss’s elfin Callophrys mossii

    brown elfin Callophrys augustinus


    western pygmy-blue  Brephidium exile

    echo azure Celastrina ladon

    Bernardino dotted-blue  Euphilotes bernardino

    Pacific dotted-blue  Euphilotes enoptes

    western tailed-blue Everes amyntula

    silvery blue  Glaucopsyche lygdamus

    arrowhead blue Glaucopsyche piasus

    marine blue  Leptotes marina

    melissa blue  Lycaeides melissa

    sonoran blue  Philotes sonorensis

    acmon blue  Plebejus acmon

    Boisduval’s blue Plebejus icarioides

    lupine blue Plebejus lupinus

female acmon blue, Soberanes Creek