The green-underside blue is a species of butterfly, in a group known as “blues,”(1) that is native to most of Europe,(2) part of North Africa,(2) and part of Asia,(1,3,4) from Spain (1) and Algeria(2) to Finland,(5,6) eastern Kazakhstan,(4) and eastern Siberia(3). While it is found in many different environments, it primarily lives in grassland, steppe, and deciduous forest habitats.(7) This butterfly, with a wingspan of around 26-37 mm (1.0-1.45 in),(3) has a striking multicolored appearance. The backs of the wings of males are blue(1,2,3) with a black edge 1-2 mm (0.04-0.08 in) wide(1), while those of females are brown with variable amounts of blue.(1,2) The underside in both males and females is a silvery color with varying numbers of black spots(1,2,3) (the spots are generally larger on the forewings than on the hind-wings(3)) and the splash of greenish-blue that gives the species its name.(1) The butterfly emerges in the springtime and can be seen from March to July,(1,2,3,4) after having spent the winter transforming from its hairy brown-and-green caterpillar stage.(1,3,8) These caterpillars, like those of many others in the family Lycaenidae, sometimes engage in a partnership with ants, which give the caterpillars protection in exchange for a nutritious fluid that the caterpillars secrete.(9) The caterpillars themselves eat leafy plants,(8) especially legumes,(3,10) while the adult green-underside blues feed primarily on the nectar of a variety of flowers.(11) In flying from flower to flower, the butterflies also carry pollen and sometimes even fungus spores between plants, unintentionally helping both plants and fungi reproduce.(10,11) In spite of its wide range and occurrence in different types of habitat, this beautiful butterfly is threatened by habitat loss (7,8) and potentially by a warming climate (6,12) and is listed as vulnerable to extinction.(5)
- 1. “Com Diferenciar Glaucopsyche alexis de Glaucopsyche melanops.” Cynthia: Bulletí del Butterfly Monitoring Scheme a Catalunya 1 (2001): 16.
- 2. Rowlings, Matt. “Glaucopsyche alexis: Green-Underside Blue.” Eurobutterflies. 2011. 18 Jul. 2011. http://www.eurobutterflies.com/species_pages/alexis.htm
- 3. “Kløverblåvinge.” UiO: Naturhistorik Museum. 2011. 19 Jul. 2011. http://www.nhm.uio.no/fakta/zoologi/insekter/norlep/lycaenidae/alexis.html
- 4. Lukhtanov, V. A., M. S. Vishnevskaya, A. V. Volynkin, and R. V. Yakovlev. “Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera) of West Altai.” Entomological Review 87.5 (2007): 524-544.
- 5. Kivinen, Sonja, Miska Luoto, Risto K. Heikkinen, Kimmo Saarinen, and Terhi Ryttäri. “Threat Spots and Environmental Determinants of Red-Listed Plant, Butterfly and Bird Species in Boreal Agricultural Environments.” Biodiversity and Conservation 17.13 (2008): 3289-3305.
- 6. Pöyry, Juha, Miska Luoto, Risto K. Heikkinen, Mikko Kuussaari, and Kimmo Saarinen. “Species Traits Explain Recent Range Shifts of Finnish Butterflies.” Global Change Biology 15.3 (2009): 732-743.
- 7. Van Swaay, Chris, Martin Warren, and Grégoire Loïs. “Biotope Use and Trends of European Butterflies.” Journal of Insect Conservation 10.1 (2006): 189-209.
- 8. Kuussaari, Mikko, Janne Heliölä, Juha Pöyry, and Kimmo Saarinen. “Contrasting Trends of Butterfly Species Preferring Semi-Natural Grasslands, Field Margins and Forest Edges in Northern Europe.” Journal of Insect Conservation 11.4 (2007): 351-366.
- 9. Fiedler, Konrad. “Ant-Associates of Palaearctic Lycaenid Butterfly Larvae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae; Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) – A Review.” Myrmecologische Nachrichten 9 (2006): 77-87.
- 10. Jennersten, Ola. “Flower Visitation and Pollination Efficiency of Some North European Butterflies.” Oecologia 63.1 (1984): 80-89.
- 11. Jennersten, Ola. “Butterfly Visitors as Vectors for Ustilago violacea Spores between Caryophyllaceous Plants.” Oikos 40.1 (1983): 125-130.
- 12. Parmesan, Camille, Nils Ryrholm, Constantí Stefanescu, Jane K. Hill, Chris D. Thomas, Henri Descimon, Brian Huntley, Lauri Kaila, Jaakko Kullberg, Toomas Tammaru, W. John Tennent, Jeremy A. Thomas, and Martin Warren. “Poleward Shifts in Geographical Ranges of Butterfly Species Associated with Regional Warming.” Nature 399.6736 (1999): 579-583.
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