Wild South Florida – Cassius Blue Butterfly
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Cassius Blue Butterfly
Cassius blue butterfly, photographed at Woodmont Natural Area in Tamarac.
Cassius Blue Butterfly

The cassius blue, leptotes cassius, is a common butterfly found throughout much of Florida's peninsula and throughout the year. It's also found in Texas, but the geography that separates them have caused the Texans and Floridians to develop as subspecies. Hosts plants include milkpea, leadwort, keys blackbead, rosary pea and wild tamarind. Unlike most butterflies, female cassius blues lay their eggs one at a time on the flower buds of their hosts. Newly hatched caterpillars eat the buds, flowers and developing seeds.

cassius blue
cassius blue butterfly

It is a small butterfly but sources differ over exactly how small. The University of Florida says it has wingspan of about a half inch. Butterflies and Moths of North America has it much bigger. Males and females vary color, with the males more blue above, and females more white.

Cassius blues do not tolerate cold at all, not even the relatively mild winters of north Florida. Occasionally, they do stray as far north as South Carolina and Missouri, but the theory is that they've hitched a ride on ornamental plant transported out of state. Their range extends south into Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

It's also known as the tropical blue butterfly. It is a member of Lycaenidae, the gossamer wings family.the cassius blue is similar in appearance to the ceraunus blue; an easy way to identify the cassius blue is the two large "eye spots" on the back of the wings. The ceraunus has only one eye spot on each. We found these in Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys and at Woodmont Natural Area in Tamarac.

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