IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

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Introduction

Despite its confusing name, the green-underside blue is not a color but a butterfly—and a beautiful one too. This 26-37 mm (1.0-1.45 in)-wide butterfly,(1) part of a group of butterflies known as “blues”,(2) lives throughout most of Europe,(3) part of North Africa,(3) and part of Asia,(1,2,4) from Spain(2) and Algeria(3) to Finland,(5,6) eastern Kazakhstan,(4) and eastern Siberia.(1) It gets its name from the splash of greenish-blue on the underside of both females and males,(2) although the rest of the underside is more silvery and has a varying number of black spots(1,2,3)(larger on the front wings than on the rear wings(1)). The back of the wings in males are vivid blue with a black edge 1-2 mm (0.04-0.08 in) wide,(2) while in females the wing-backs are more brownish with some blue mixed in.(2,3) These butterflies can most often be found sipping the nectar from many types of flowers(7) in grasslands, steppes, and forests (8) from March to July,(1,2,3,4) having spent the winter months transforming from a hairy green-and-brown caterpillar into a brightly-colored butterfly.(1,2,9) As a caterpillar, this insect eats leafy plants, not nectar,(9) but it actually produces its own nectar-like substance which is a nutritious treat for ants;(10) as happens with some other related types of caterpillars, the ants gather around the green-underside blue caterpillar to feed on the liquid, giving the caterpillar protection at the same time.(10) While they don’t partner with ants when they are adult butterflies, green-underside blue butterflies do unintentionally help certain plants and even fungi reproduce, by transferring pollen and fungus spores from flower to flower.(7,11) Unfortunately, the green-underside blue is a threatened species. In spite of its wide range and its ability to live in many kinds of habitats, this beautiful butterfly is threatened by habitat loss(8,9) and possibly by global warming (6,12) and is considered vulnerable to extinction.(5)

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© Noah Weisz

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