Western pygmy blue

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Brephidium exilis
B. e. exilis
Grand Cayman pygmy blue (Brephidium exilis thompsoni) 2.JPG
B. e. thompsoni
Grand Cayman
Scientific classification
B. exilis
Binomial name
Brephidium exilis
(Boisduval, 1852)[1]
  • Lycaena exilis Boisduval, 1852
  • Lycaena fea Edwards, 1871
  • Brephidium exilis ab. coolidgei Gunder, 1925
  • Brephidium exilis yucateca Clench, 1970
  • Lycaena isophthalma Herrich-Schäffer, 1862
  • Brephidium barbouri Clench, 1943
  • Brephidium exilis thompsoni Carpenter & Lewis, 1943

The western pygmy blue (Brephidium exilis or Brephidium exile) is one of the smallest butterflies in the world and the smallest in North America. It has reached Hawaii, as well as the Persian Gulf, including eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The upperside is copper brown with dull blue at the bases of both wings. The underside of the hindwing is copper brown with white at the base; the fringe mostly white, with 3 small black spots near base, and a row of black spots at outer margin. The wingspan is 12 - 20 mm. Life History: Males patrol over the host plants all day to find receptive females. Females lay eggs all over the host but particularly on the uppersides of leaves. Caterpillars eat all parts of the plant. Chrysalids hibernate. Flight: July-September in the north, all year in South Texas. Caterpillar Hosts: Pigweed (Chenopodium album), saltbush species (Atriplex), and others in the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae). Adult Food: Flower nectar. Habitat: Alkaline areas such as deserts, salt marshes, and wasteland. Range: Common. Central California east to southern Nevada, central Arizona, central New Mexico, and west Texas. South through southern California, Baja California, and Mexico to Venezuela. Migrates to Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oregon. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia along the Persian Gulf coast up to Kuwait.


  • Brephidium exilis exilis (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Mexico, New Orleans to Florida, Georgia)
  • Brephidium exilis isophthalma (Herrich-Schäffer, 1862) (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Bahamas)
  • Brephidium exilis thompsoni (Carpenter & Lewis, 1943) (Grand Cayman)[2]



  1. ^ Brephidium at Markku Savela's website on Lepidoptera
  2. ^ R. R. Askew and P. A. van B. Stafford, Butterflies of the Cayman Islands (Apollo Books, Stenstrup 2008) ISBN 978-87-88757-85-9, pp. 78-80

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