The Lycaenidae Family consists of the Gossamer-winged butterflies, which refers to the sheer appearance of their wings. By definition gossamer means an extremely delicate variety of gauze.
These are very small butterflies with fluted wings that are often streaked with bright colors. When they fly we humans can see the sun reflecting from their wings.
The Western Pygmay Blue, a Gossamer-winged, is known to be the smallest butterfly measuring in at .62 inches (.25 cm). In contrast, the Queen Alexandra's Birdwing of the Swallowtail family is considered to be the largest butterfly at approximately 12 inches (30 cm).
The lycaenidae butterfly species larvae produce complex carbohydrate secretions, or Honeydew. Honeydew attracts and subdues ants who, in turn, protect the butterfly larva from predators.
More common species in the Lycaenidae family are:
Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys rubi)
Found in scattered areas of the west coast of the U.S., we are likely to see this one inch butterfly (28 mm) in Europe, North Africa, Russia and along Asia Minor.
With brown color on the top-side of wings, the iridescent green bottom-side of wings are always up for camouflage purposes. Males are territorial and after mating, females place one butterfly egg at a time. We will see butterfly very early spring March through May.
|Photo: Torbjorn Swenelius|
Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
Seen throughout America, United Kingdom to Europe, those beautiful blue colors on the top-side of butterfly wings is the male while the female is brown.
Both male and female have black spots while the female has orange spots along the underside margin.
|Photo: Vasiliy Vishnevskiy|
Silver Studded Blue
Depending on lighting butterfly colors can be iridescent blue to greyish-brown. The silvery metallic spots are located on the underside of wings along the margin along with other spots throughout.
Female butterflies have very little blue, if any, on top side and are primarily greyish-brown in color with orange spots on the underside.
This butterfly is found worldwide with larger populations distributed unevenly throughout.
|Photo: Florian Teodor Andronache|
Coral Hairstreak Butterfly (Satyrium titus)
Having similar markings to the above Gossamer-winged butterflies, the Coral Hairstreak is primarily brown in color with more dominant orange spots running along their hindwing.
Like the Green Hairstreak, the Coral butterfly is found always keeping its wings up. Unlike the Green hairstreak, however, the Coral is seen flying mid to late summer until August.
White Letter Hairstreak
This butterfly is known for colonizing and living high on top of Elm trees. They are hard to spot and humans are likely to see fluttering dark spots.
It's name, white letter, comes from the formation of the lines at the base of the lower wing - W.
|Photo: Florian Teodor Andronache|
Brown Hairstreak Butterfly
Like the White Letter, this butterfly is found fluttering high atop the canopy of trees. After mating it is usually the female that is seen fluttering low along wood edges and hedges to lay her butterfly eggs. Once hatched, larva are active at night and motionless during the daytime.
When wings are open their top color is brown. The females have a dramatic orange spot on the outside of their forwings while the male is all brown or having a small dull patch.
|Photo: Torbjorn Swenelius|
This butterfly will be seen flying in open areas from grasslands to coastal areas because larva feed near calcareous habitats (limestone/chalk). It is found in the U.K., Scotland, Europe, North Africa, Middle East, temperate Asia to India.
When wings are open they are dark brown in color with orange spots running along lower edges of both the forewings and hindwings. When wings are up, as picture shows, this butterfly can be mistaken for the female common blue butterfly. The female common blue will display a silvery iridescence.
|Photo: Romano Petesic|
Lycaenidae larvae not only produce Honeydew (see above) but adult butterflies also consume it in other forms.
Many organisms and insects ingest tree sap then excrete it. The sugar-rich sticky liquid is often found the trees where adults colonize.
Also from Lycaenidae family are Copper butterflies. There are over 70 species of coppers in selected areas of the world.
When feeding on nectar wings are up, helping identify Copper species better. The top of female wings are primarily brown where the males are orange/copper.
|Photo: Tomas Pavelka|
Scarce Copper butterflies can have brown markings on the top of their wings, others can be orange.
|Photo: Dmitry Zhukov|
Lesser Fiery Copper
This photo is a male with the fiery orange wings. A female is orange with dark brown/black spots. similar to the above photo.
This butterfly is found throughout Europe, Asia and Western China.
|Photo: Yuri Bershadsky|
Another angle of the male Lesser Fiery Copper (Lycaena thersamon).
Red Pierrot Butterfly
Primarily found in parts of Asia and India, this butterfly is up to 1-1/2 inch (3.5 cm) in size.
It is a weak flier and because of this butterfly will stay close to the ground fluttering from plant to plant.
(Castalius rosimon rosimon)
These can also be called the Common White Butterfly. Butterflies are found in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and throughout to the Philippines.
These are fast flyers that circle-eight, or dodge, around from the ground to high atop tall bushes. They are very common and can be seen in open edges of forests to gardens.
Host plants are from the Rhamnaceae, or Buckthorn family. Familiar names include California Wild Lilac, Coffeeberry, Redberry to New Jersey Tea - all dicots.
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