Blues: Mojave dotted-blue (Euphilotes mojave)

(Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Polyommatinae: Scolitantidini)

Profile prepared by Mace Vaughan and Matthew Shepherd

The Mojave dotted-blue is found in the Mojave Desert region of southeastern California, southern Nevada, southeastern Utah, and northwestern Arizona. There is also a small, isolated population in northern Baja California. This butterfly lives in a fragile habitat, increasingly being invaded by fire-susceptible cheatgrass. A number of populations are threatened by housing and other kinds of development as well as disruption by off-road vehicles.

red list profile

conservation status

Xerces Red List Status: Imperiled
Other Rankings:

Canada – Species at Risk Act: N/A
Canada – provincial status: N/A
Mexico: None
USA – Endangered Species Act: None
USA – state status: None
NatureServe: G2G3
IUCN Red List: N/A

The Mojave dotted-blue is considered imperiled because it has a limited range and an uncertain number of populations, probably less than twenty. None of the four U.S. states in which Mojave dotted-blue occurs allows listing of insects under state statue.

description and taxonomic status

The Mojave dotted-blue is a small pale blue butterfly in the family Lycaenidae (gossamer-wing butterflies). Its wingspan is 19 to 23 mm (¾ to ? inch). Typical for the blues, males and females are different colors. The upperside of the wings are pale blue with narrow black borders on males and blackish-brown with extensive blue at base on females. The hindwing on both genders has an orange marginal band that is restricted or absent. The underside is off-white with obvious black spotting.

Euphilotes mojave (Watson & W. R. Comstock), 1920. The family Lycaenidae is one for which the taxonomy and nomenclature is often reviewed. Euphilotes mojave is considered a subspecies, Euphilotes enoptes mojave, by some authors.

life history

Habitat of the Mojave dotted-blue is dry desert washes and sandy areas. The hostplants are two wild buckwheats, yellowturbans (Eriogonum pusillum) and kidneyleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum reniforme). There is a single flight from mid-March to June, during which males patrol around hostplants looking for females. Adults drink nectar, mainly from buckwheats. Eggs are laid singly on flowers or buds and the caterpillars eat flowers and fruits. Larvae may be tended by ants. They hibernate as chrysilids in leaf litter.

distribution

The Mojave dotted-blue is found in the Mojave Desert region of southeastern California, southern Nevada, southeastern Utah, and northwestern Arizona. There is also a small, isolated population in northern Baja California. In some parts of California it is found in the desert as well as the hills, so may be less patchy in its distribution than many other butterflies in the region.


Courtesy of Butterflies and Moths of North America, Big Sky Institute.

threats and conservation needs

This butterfly lives in a fragile habitat, increasingly being invaded by fire-susceptible cheatgrass. A number of populations are threatened by housing and other kinds of development as well as disruption by off-road vehicles.

All occupied habitats should be protected to maintain hostplant populations, especially from invasive weed spread. In areas closer to development, habitat should be protected from housing and motorized recreation.

Surveys for additional populations and studies to better understand the impacts of vegetation change due to invasive weeds wo uld be valuable.

references

Emmel, T. C. (Editor). 1998. Systematics of Western North American Butterflies. Mariposa Press, Gainesville, FL.

Emmel, T. C., and J. F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA.

Garth, J. S., and J. W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

Stanford, R. E., and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO.

additional resources

Arizona Game and Fish; Invertebrate Abstracts, Distribution Maps, and Illustrations: Euphilotes mojave virginensis (Accessed 5/9/05)

Big Sky Institute, Butterflies and Moths of North America: Mojave dotted-blue (Accessed 1/21/09)

Nearctica; The Butterflies and Skippers of North America: Mojave dotted-blue (Accessed 5/9/05)

NatureServe Explorer (Accessed 9/22/08)

citation

Vaughan, D. M., and M. D. Shepherd. 2005. Species Profile: Euphilotes mojave. In Shepherd, M. D., D. M. Vaughan, and S. H. Black (Eds). Red List of Pollinator Insects of North America. CD-ROM Version 1 (May 2005). Portland, OR: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

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