List of butterflies of North America (Lycaenidae)

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Gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, larva

Gossamer-wings are the smallest butterflies. Their wingspans range from 0.5-2.0 inches (1.2-5.1 cm). There are about 7,000 species worldwide with about 139 species in North America. Gossamer-wings include the subfamilies hairstreaks, harvesters, coppers, and blues. Their flights vary from the fast, erratic hairstreaks to the slow, bouncy blues. They like to feed at flowers, and males like to puddle at damp ground. Most male gossamer-wings locate females by perching, while some males patrol. The turban-shaped eggs are usually laid singly. The larva is oval shaped with a flattened underside. Some species have honeydew glands that attract ants. Ants like to eat and collect the honeydew made by the caterpillar. In turn, the ants will swarm over anything that might try to harm the larva. The chrysalis is usually formed in leaf litter. Many chrysalises can make faint noises. Scientists believe this noise might ward off predatory ants.

Subfamily Miletinae: harvesters[edit]

Subfamily Lycaeninae: coppers[edit]

American copper, Lycaena phlaeas

Subfamily Theclinae: hairstreaks[edit]

Great purple hairstreak, Atlides halesus
Coral hairstreak, Satyrium titus, on butterfly weed
Banded hairstreak, Satyrium calanus
Gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus
Red-banded hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops

Subfamily Polyommatinae: blues[edit]

Western pygmy blue, Brephidium exilis
Male eastern tailed blue, Everes comyntas
Female eastern tailed blue, Everes comyntas
Acmon blue, Plebejus acmon


  • Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman (2003). Butterflies of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-15312-8.