melissa

Melissa Blue

Plebejus melissa (W. H. Edwards, 1873)

Family: Lycaenidae

Status: Uncommon to common local resident, more common westward

NENHP Ranking: Not listed

Range: From central Alberta and Manitoba the species ranges south through most of California, Arizona and New Mexico. In Nebraska it is uncommon/rare in the eastern third of the state.

Broods/Flight Times: At least two broods. In Nebraska it has been found from 9 May – 15 October.

Larval Hostplant(s): Various Astragalus and Lupinus species, wild licorice Glycyrrhiza lepidota, alfalfa Medicago sativa and white locoweed Oxytropis sericea

Habitat: It inhabits upland prairies. When in alfalfa fields it can sometimes be found in large numbers.

Found at: Gilbert-Baker SWMA, Ash Hollow SHP, Niobrara Valley Preserve

Overwintering: As an egg

Similar Species: The much rarer Acmon Blue

Notes: Adults are sexually dimorphic and have been observed at mud (males), and nectaring on chokecherry, alfalfa, asters and verbena. An eastern subspecies, the Karner blue (L. melissa samuelis) is found from southeastern Minnesota east to New York in scattered colonies in association with its only known larval hostplant Lupinus perennis. It has been extirpated from much of its range, and is considered endangered where it remains.

Melissa Blue female, Gilbert-Baker SWMA, Photo by Jonathan Nikkila
Melissa Blue – male, dorsal
Melissa Blue – female, dorsal

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