The smallest butterfly

Brephidium exile is the smallest butterfly in Idaho.

Kelly and I were hiking around at the Hansen Bridge Cooperative Management Area and I saw an extremely large Brephidium exile on flowers of Ericamera nauseosa. It isn’t the best photo I have taken of this species, but it is cool just because of the enormous size of this normally tiny insect.

I have watched this butterfly laying eggs on Salsola tragus and Halogeton glomeratus, but I have only found caterpillars on Atriplex canescens. All three plants are in the Chenopodiaceae, but only Atriplex canescens is native. If Brephidium exilis is able to successfully breed on the non-native plants, then it can potentially breed in many very weedy habitats beyond the ancestral ones. Brephidium exilis is guarded by ants as a caterpillar, so maybe only weedy areas with the correct ants.

Caterpillar tended by ant on Atriplex canescens flower.


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