The family Lycaenidae is a large and varied worldwide group that has 4,000 to 6,000
species depending on the ever-changing taxonomic flux. They are collectively called
Gossamer Butterflies or Gossamer Wings. The family is further divided into eight
subfamilies. The first is the Theclinae which includes the Hairstreaks, Sunstreaks,
Elfins and others. The second is the Polyommatinae which includes the Blues, Azures,
Arguses, Caeruleans and others. The third subfamily is the Lycaeninae which includes
the Coppers, Sapphires, Silverlines and others. The forth is the Poritiinae which
includes the gems. The fifth is the Miletinae which includes the Brownies, Harvesters,
Darkies, Apeflies and others. The sixth is the Curetinae which includes the Sunbeams.
The seventh family is the Lipteninae which includes about 500 tropical rainforest
gossamer wings. The eighth and final subfamily is the Liphyrinae and includes the
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Echinargus isola belongs to the subfamily Polyommatinae. This butterfly’s range
is throughout most of the central and western U.S. and then south to Costa Rica.
It prefers grasslands, fields, desert, meadows, gardens and weedy areas.
The larval food sources includes many plants in the pea family (Fabaceae). Males
patrol for females with an erratic flight during daytime. Females lay eggs singly
on flower buds of host during midday. Caterpillars eat flowers, seedpods and sometimes
leaves. They are tended by ants which presumably protect the caterpillars in return
for their sugary secretions.