Overview

Brief Summary

North American Ecology (US and Canada)

Resident in Eastern North America (Scott 1986), with several isolated populations in the west. Habitats are upper Sonoran zone/lower Austral zone to lower Canadian zone desert foothills, moist meadows, streamsides, and forest clearings. Host plants are usually herbaceous or shrubs and include many species, but mostly in one family, with most known hosts from Leguminosae. Eggs are laid on the host plant singly. Individuals overwinter as larvae, sometimes in host pods. There are several flights each year with the approximate flight times May1-Oct 31 in the northern part of the range, and Feb1-Nov30 on gulf coast, May15-Sept15 in Colorado, Mar1-Sept30 in Calif. (Scott 1986).
  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) S. Canada south to Central America, east of the Rockies. Also occurs west of the Rockies, although spottily.

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Geographic Range

Cupido comyntas can be found in the upper Sonoran Zone to lower Canadian foothills, or the lower Canadian Zone in the east. Most populations are found in the eastern United States and Canadian areas. There are some isolated colonies in Oregon and California.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Milne, L. 1980. The Aubudon Society field guide to North American insects and spiders. New York: Random House.
  • Scott, J. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Standford, CA: Standford University Press.
  • Tveten, J. 1996. Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Tailed blues have a wingspan of 7/8 - 1 1/8". The wings of the males are pale blue with a brownish tint on the sides. There is a small orange spot at the base of the tail of these butterflies. Females have larger wings that are gray with a shot of blue streaking down them. The underside of the female's wings are gray and white with a curved row of gray spots. The hindwings have eyespots. During the spring the females are bluer than during the summer, when C. comyntas is brown. There are two orange spots on the underside of the butterfly, and the upper side has an orange spot on the males.

Range wingspan: .022 to .035 m.

Average wingspan: .028 m.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

  • Carter, D. 1992. Butterflies and Moths. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Terrestrial

Comments: A great variety of open, brushy to lightly wooded, generally dry, habitats with any of the many native and exotic legumes used by the larvae.

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The habitats in which they live are usually moist meadows, desert foothills, stream sides, roadsides and forest paths or clearings. Also, they are attracted to weedy fields and gardens. This causes Cupido comyntas to profit from human encroachment.

Habitat Regions: terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Cupido comyntas has a short proboscis (the small, flexible snout which the butterfly uses to sip nectar), which restricts it to feeding from open or short-tubed flowers. Blossoms are also frequently visited by this species. Often E. comyntas will fly to mud puddles for water, which provide it with amino acids and dissolved minerals. Its favorite food plants are lupine and vetch. The caterpillar of E. comyntas eats clover and other leguminous plants.

Plant Foods: leaves; nectar

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Nectarivore )

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Associations

Flowering Plants Visited by Everes comyntas in Illinois

Everes comyntas Godart: Lycaenidae, Lepidoptera
(some observations are from Fothergill & Vaughn and Hilty, otherwise observations are from Robertson; this butterfly is the Eastern Tailed-Blue)

Apiaceae: Cicuta maculata sn (Rb), Eryngium yuccifolium sn (Rb), Zizia aurea sn (Rb); Asclepiadaceae: Asclepias purpurascens [plab sn] (Rb), Asclepias sullivanti [plab sn] (Rb), Asclepias tuberosa [plab] (Rb), Asclepias verticillata [plab] [plup] (Rb, H); Asteraceae: Aster pilosus sn (Rb, FV), Boltonia asterioides sn (Rb), Erigeron pulchellus sn (Rb), Eupatorium sessilifolium sn (Rb), Eupatorium serotinum sn (Rb), Euthamia graminifolia sn (Rb), Oligoneuron rigidum sn (Rb), Pluchea camphorata sn (FV), Ratibida pinnata sn (Rb), Rudbeckia subtomentosa sn (Rb), Rudbeckia triloba sn (Rb); Brassicaceae: Cardamine bulbosa sn (Rb), Dentaria laciniata sn (Rb); Campanulaceae: Lobelia spicata sn (Rb), Triodanis perfoliata sn (Rb); Fabaceae: Cercis canadensis sn (Rb), Crotalaria sagittalis sn np (Rb), Dalea candida sn (Rb), Dalea purpurea sn (Rb), Desmodium illinoense exp np (Rb), Lespedeza procumbens sn np (Rb), Lespedeza virginica sn fq np (Rb), Trifolium pratense sn (Rb), Trifolium repens sn (Rb, FV); Geraniaceae: Geranium maculatum sn (Rb); Lamiaceae: Lycopus americanus sn (Rb), Pycnanthemum tenuifolium sn (Rb), Teucrium canadense sn (Rb); Liliaceae: Nothoscordum bivalve sn (Rb); Lythraceae: Ammannia coccinea sn (Rb); Onagraceae: Ludwigia alternifolia sn (Rb); Polygonaceae: Fallopia scandens sn (Rb); Portulacaceae: Claytonia virginica sn (Rb); Rosaceae: Fragaria virginiana sn (Rb), Potentilla norvegica sn (Rb); Rubiaceae: Cephalanthus occidentalis sn (Rb); Scrophulariaceae: Lindernia dubia sn (Rb), Scrophularia marilandica sn (Rb), Veronicastrum virginicum sn (Rb); Verbenaceae: Phyla lanceolata sn (Rb), Verbena bracteata sn (Rb), Verbena stricta sn (Rb), Verbena urticifolia sn fq (Rb)

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Ecosystem Roles

This species acts as a pollinator, and also as an herbivore. It also may be prey to many other species.

Ecosystem Impact: pollinates

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Predation

Cupido comyntas has a mutualistic association with ants. The caterpillars of this species secrete a "honeydew" from their abdomen. This liquid is rich in sugars and proteins. The liquid feeds the ants, and in return the ants protect the caterpillars against any possible predators.

Additionally, when E. comyntas senses a potential predator, it will rub its hindwings together to divert the predator from its vulnerable foreparts.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Very abundant.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Adults sip flower nectar and mud. Males patrol for females (Scott, 1986).
  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.
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Life Cycle

Development

The eggs from C. comyntas are laid on the leaves and flowers. The eggs, which are pale green in color, will develop into mature larvae that hibernate within the host's pod. The caterpillars are hairy with a dark green body. They also have dark brown stripes and a small black head. The caterpillars will use the flower bud that they were laid on as food, and then will later construct and hibernate their cocoon for the winter months. In the spring, an E. comyntas butterfly will emerge from the cocoon, and the life cycle will start over again.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Reproduction

The males will look for mates during warm, daylight hours. Usually mating takes place from late morning to midafternoon. Female C. comyntas butterflies lay their eggs on immature flowering buds, in order to preserve the flowers for the caterpillars when they hatch early in the season. There are usually two or more generations a year.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Beyond developing, laying, and fertilizing eggs, adults show no parental involvement with their offspring.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning)

  • Carter, D. 1992. Butterflies and Moths. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Milne, L. 1980. The Aubudon Society field guide to North American insects and spiders. New York: Random House.
  • Neck, R. 1996. A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas. Houston, TX: Gulf Pub. Co..
  • Stokes, D., L. Stokes. 1991. The Butterfly Book. Boston: Little Brown.
  • Tveten, J. 1996. Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cupido comyntas

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 51
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Cupido comyntas

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 7 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACATTATATTTTATTTTTGGAATTTGAGCAGGAATATTAGGAACATCTTTA---AGAATCTTAATTCGAATAGAATTAGGAACTCCAGGCTCATTAATTGGAGAT---GATCAAATTTATAATACTATTGTCACAGCTCATGCTTTTATTATAATTTTTTTCATAGTAATACCAATTATAATTGGAGGATTTGGAAATTGATTAGTACCATTAATA---TTAGGTGCTCCAGATATAGCATTTCCTCGAATAAATAATATAAGATTTTGATTATTACCTCCATCATTAATATTATTAATTTCAAGAAGAATCGTAGAAAATGGAGCAGGAACAGGATGAACAGTGTACCCCCCACTTTCATCAAATATTGCCCATGGAGGATCATCTGTAGATTTA---GCAATTTTTTCTTTACATTTAGCAGGAATCTCTTCAATTTTAGGAGCAATTAATTTTATTACAACTATTATTAATATACGAGTTAATAATTTATCATTTGATCAAATATCTCTATTTATTTGAGCTGTAGGAATTACAGCATTATTATTATTATTATCATTACCTGTATTAGCTGGG---GCTATTACAATATTATTAACTGATCGAAATTTAAATACCTCATTTTTTGATCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCTTATATCAACATTTA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread in eastern U.S., Mexico, and Central America.

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Conservation for the E. comyntas is not usually required. The Nature Conservancy Global Ranking system gives this species a rank of G5 which means that the E. comyntas is secure, but might be rare in some parts of its geographical range. (Opler 1992)

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Threats

Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation

Comments: Subspecies texanus in Texas purportedly endangered.

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Management

Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

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Wikipedia

Eastern Tailed-Blue

Ventral view

The Eastern Tailed-blue or Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas), also known as Everes comyntas,[2] is a common butterfly of eastern North America. Males are generally blue on the upperside of their wings while females are lighter blue to brown or charcoal in coloring, but there are also varieties of purple and pink found in both sexes.[3] The underside coloration ranges from bluish-white to tan. There are two or three (outermost one often faint) black to orange chevron-shaped spots on the rear of the hind wings and a trailing tail off the innermost of the spots. The butterfly is 21 to 29 mm (0.83 to 1.1 in) wide with wings outstretched and slightly shorter in length.[4]

Female

Eastern Tailed-blue butterflies feed on various legumes and are known to secrete a substance which is favored by some ant species. The ant in turn protects the larva of the butterfly from other predators.

The butterfly is common across eastern North America, and is found as far south as Central America. The Great Plains form a habitat boundary between the Eastern and the much less common but similar Western Tailed-blue butterfly. The central section of California and portions of the states of Oregon and Washington also has Eastern tailed blues, which likely adapted to the habitat after being brought there inadvertently by man. The species is virtually absent from the Rocky Mountain region. Often found in sunny, open habitat, the butterfly prefers clover, alfalfa and the seeds of various legumes.[3]

References cited [edit]

  1. ^ "Cupido comyntas". Lepidoptera.pro. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Eastern Tailed Blue, Butterflies of Canada
  3. ^ a b "Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Montana State University. Retrieved 2006-10-05. 
  4. ^ Glassberg, Jeffrey (2001). Butterflies of North America. New York: Sterling. ISBN 0-7607-5865-4. 
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