Family: Lycaenidae, Gossamer-wing Butterflies view all from this family
Description The Smith's blue butterfly, Euphilotes enoptes smithi, is an organism in the family Lycaenidae, which is also known as the "gossamer wing" family.
Euphilotes enoptes smithi is a small butterfly with a wingspan no greater than 2.5 centimeters. Males manifest dorsal wing color of a bright lustrous blue, while females exhibit brown dorsal coloration. Both sexes have with orange-red band markings on the hind dorsal wings. Ventral wing coloration for both males and females is a whitish gray, punctuated with black speckling.
This federally listed endangered species occurs in fragmented populations along the Central Coast of California, primarily associated with sand dune habitat in one case with a dune-based Maritime Coast Range Ponderosa Pine forest in the Carbonera Creek watershed in Santa Cruz County. The range of E. enoptes is from Monterey Bay south to Punta Gorda. They live in sand dunes and grassland areas
Over half of the original habitat of E. e. smithi has been destroyed by human overpopulation, coastal highway development and trampling of habitat, and invasive plants. Several sites are currently being protected to conserve Smith's blue butterfly, including the Maritime Coast Range Ponderosa Pine forest at Carbonera Creek and a preserve at Fort Ord, California—the first site ever chosen for management on behalf of an insect in the United States. E. e. smithi is associated with two species of buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium and Eriogonum parvifolium) during all of its life phases, such that decline in these buckwheat species' populations poses further threats to this butterfly.
Dimensions The wingspan is 22-26 mm for males and 20-27 mm for females.
Endangered Status The Smith's Blue, a subspecies of the Dotted Blue, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in California. The Smith's Blue and a number of other California butterflies lay their eggs on buckwheat plants that grow on naturally shifting dune systems. Many of these dunes have been stabilized by the encroachment of exotic vegetation, and the buckwheats can no longer grow there successfully. The U.S. Army has established a preserve at Fort Ord, on Monterey Bay, for protecting the dune habitat, the buckwheat plants, and the Smith's Blue.
Habitat Canyons & caves, Meadows & fields, Deserts.
Range Northwest, California, Plains, Western Canada, Southwest, Rocky Mountains.