Dateline: July 11, 2014*
When I see the bright yellow flowers of the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista* fasciculata) I tend to think of Sulphur butterflies because it is a larval host for several members of the Sulphur butterfly family.
The other day I was out enjoying the diversity of insect activity on the Partridge Pea plants back in my pond area, when I saw a Ceraunus Blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus). This lovely lady was laying eggs on the partridge pea.
I had nearly forgotten that this Florida native plant serves as a larval host for this species of butterfly. Two other hosts are hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsuta) and creeping indigo (Indigofera spicata) both of which are not native to Florida.
Partidge Pea is native to the midwest and eastern United States from as far north as Massachusetts and Minnesota to as far south as Texas, New Mexico and Florida.
The Ceraunus Blue butterfly is tiny and would be easily overlooked except for the mad fluttering of a hint of blue close to the ground. It is sure to attract your attention. The males’ wings (dorsal side) are the most vivid blue whereas the ladies’ wings are a darker brownish grey.
Most of the time the Blue will alight only showing its ventral sides. But, every now and again it will open up to reveal the very pretty dorsal display.
In April 2012, the Ceraunus Blue butterfly was listed on the Federal Register as Threatened Due to Similarity of Appearance to the endangered Miami Blue Butterfly in Coastal South and Central Florida. I’m pleased to report that in my Central Florida beautiful wildlife garden, the numbers of Ceraunus Blue butterflies are secure.
Although I wasn’t able to find any eggs (where ARE my reading glasses??), they are described as blue-green, flattened, laid singly on host flower buds. Larva is variable; green to red with pink markings and the Chrysalis is green. I’m keeping my eyes open and hope to find the various stages to photograph.
Larvae feed on the new growth, buds and flowers of the host plant and there is PLENTY to eat at my place.
So plant Partridge Pea for a sea of yellow beauty which will attract a hint of blue to your beautiful wildlife garden.
*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on July 11, 2014 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.