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Marine Blue
Leptotes marina (Reakirt, 1868)

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Diagnosis: The upperside is violet blue, with white fringes and two black spots at the anal angle of the hindwing in both sexes. In females the costa and the outer third of the forewing is dark grey, and the hindwing has curved tan-grey bands parallel to a marginal row of grey spots. The underside in both sexes is whitish, covered with broken curved bands of grey, and with a marginal row of black and grey spots. Wingspan: 16 to 25 mm.

Range: Resident throughout the southern U.S. and Mexico, marina regularly migrates into the central U.S. and has reached Canada twice, at Glenside, Saskatchewan, and Point Pelee, Ontario.

Similar Species: Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola) has a band of black spots on the forewing underside. [compare images]

Early Stages: Eggs are laid on flower buds and larvae eat flowers and fruit. They are highly variable, ranging in colour from light green to dark brown, usually with darker diagonal stripes. They eat a wide variety of native and introduced Fabaceae.

Abundance: Abundant in the extreme south, numbers decrease as it migrates north.

Flight Season: Adults fly all year in the extreme south with many broods; they occur between May and October farther north.

Habits: In the south marina is seen practically everywhere, even in waste areas and in towns where ornamental plantings of shrubs such as Wisteria produce very high local populations. It has a rapid, erratic flight, close to the ground, and is one of the very few lycaenids that performs regular long-distance migrations.

Remarks: In mid-June 1993, several worn females were seen at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. Fresh specimens seen later, on 13 to 22 July, 26 August, and 19 September, showed that three generations had successfully bred. The most likely foodplant is White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) which was abundant throughout the area (Wormington, 1994).

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.

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