Eastern-tailed Blue


EAstern-tailed blueMelissa Blue Fine Art

I’m partial to these small powdery blue butterflies. I saw this little fellow along the trail at St. Francis Wood in Libertyville. They are similar to spring azures, but much easier to study as they will settle down for you. Azures are very skittish, in my experience, and difficult to sneak up on.

The little tails off the hind wing resemble antennae. In fact, when at rest or nectaring, eastern-tailed blues rub their hind wings together so it looks like the “antennae” are moving. This confuses predators long enough to allow the insect to escape in the other direction. It seems to work for them, as I have often seen them with a beak-shaped holes in their wings where the tails used to be. I’ve painted this one a bit larger than life.

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24 thoughts on “Eastern-tailed Blue

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Hi Liz,
      Thank you! Yes, I’ve wanted to do a series of them ever since I was a monitor. When you are walking a route there are strict rules about how you go about it, and stopping to take pictures or make sketches isn’t allowed. Now that I am retired from that, I am enjoying watching the butterflies at my own pace 🙂 I am so happy I was part of the network. Learning all of our butterflies adds so much richness to my experience of nature.

  1. shoreacres says:

    I wondered if there is a western tailed-blue, and indeed there is. I thought it was interesting that there are populations of the eastern tailed-blue in Washington and Oregon. A couple of sites say they were carried there by humans, but didn’t give any specifics.

    They’re so pretty. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a blue butterfly. The closest probably is a white-winged lovely with a blue body that I found in our hill country. i still don’t have it identified, but that’s only because I haven’t tried yet.

    The flower your butterfly’s feeding on looks as though it’s bending over to accomodate its visitor.

  2. melissabluefineart says:

    That is nice, that there is a western species. I hope you get to see one. I’m not surprised to learn that there are eastern-tailed blues in WA and OR. They are fairly ubiquitous here, and could easily have hitched a ride when some sensible person fled to the Pacific Northwest 🙂 Perhaps when I finally get to head for the coast I’ll pack some little blue friends to come along….

  3. krikitarts says:

    When I first saw your lovely new painting and read your description of the “tail,” I immediately thought there might have been an incident of mistaken identity, thanks to the resemblance to similar butterfies that I have come to know here in Omaha, the hairstreaks. They also have (although rather larger) apparently-movable “tails.” But I looked up the Eastern Blue, and the images of the underside of the closed wing matches yours perfectly, so I’m sure you’re right. Please forgive me for having (albeit only momentarily) doubted your taxonomic research!

    • melissabluefineart says:

      I’m just a field naturalist, so I can only guess why the eastern tailed blue isn’t included in with the hairstreaks. I suppose genetically they are more related to blues, and that the tails evolved independently. I am so happy you like my painting. Thank you!

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