E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Plebejus anna Hübner, [1819]
Anna's Blue
Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer Wings)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC

© Norbert Kondla  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #74045)

Click on map to view a larger version of this map.
Distribution of Plebejus anna in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information

Click on the image(s) below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon.

Illustration Source: Butterflies of British Columbia by Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard © Royal BC Museum


This blue is characterized by the very white underside ground colour, which has a blue flush at the base of the ventral hindwing. The black spot pattern is very obscure compared with that in other species in the genus. The genitalia are nearly identical to those of L. idas. Besides the wing pattern differences, this species has a very different larval foodplant from L. idas.

Immature Stages



Mainland populations are the Cascade Mountains subspecies, L.a. ricei (Cross, 1937) (TL: Big Cultus Lake, Deschutes Co., OR). The Vancouver Island subspecies is a new subspecies, which, in the older British Columbia literature, was identified as L.a. anna or L. melissa (Shepard 1964).

Lycaeides anna vancouverensis Guppy & Shepard, new subspecies. The upperside of the male wings is a uniform blue. There is almost no evidence of black marks in the submarginal area. The ventral hindwing has a blue flush on the basal half, a characteristic of the species. The postmedian black spots on the underside of both wings are much larger than in L.a. ricei. The inner submarginal orange spots on the underside of both wings is much stronger than in L.a. ricei. In this way L.a. vancouverensis is closer in appearance to California subspecies of L. anna and L. melissa. Females have the same strong postmedian black spots and strong inner submarginal orange spots as the males. On the upperside of the female wings, the submarginal orange spots are always large on the hindwing and usually so on the forewing. This is in contrast to the subspecies L.a. ricei, where these submarginal orange spots are weak to absent on both surfaces of the wings. Types. Holotype: male, BC, Strathcona Park, Cream Lake, 1,400 m, 22 August 1988, C.S. Guppy. A label "Holotype / Lycaeides anna / vancouverensis Guppy & Shepard" is attached. The holotype is deposited in the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC, CAN. Paratypes: 27 males, 23 females, same data as holotype (CSG); 2 males, 2 females, same data as holotype (JHS); 1 female, BC, Strathcona Park, Flower Ridge, 4,600 ft., 11 August 1974, C.S. Guppy (CSG); 2 males, 6 females, BC, Mt. Cokely Ski Hill Rd., 3 August 1995,J. and S. Shepard (JHS); 1 female, same locality, 26 July 1995, J. and S. Shepard (JHS); 6 males, 6 females, BC, Mt. Cokely summit, 1,600 m, 12 August 1977. C.S. Guppy (CSG); 1 female, BC, Sproat lake (north side), 10 June 1975, C.S. Guppy (CSG).

Genus Description

The name Lycaeides comes from Lycaena, the older generic name for blues, and ides (like), thus "like other blues."

This is the only genus of blues in BC with a strong row of submarginal reddish spots on the undersides of both wings. The falces is elongate and equal in length to the labides. The dorsaI tip of the valve is serrate and the ventral tip is strongly hooked back to project dorsally.

There are six species in the genus Lycaeides, three Palearctic, two Nearctic, and one Holarctic. All North American species occur in BC.

The BC species of Lycaeides are very difficult to tell apart by wing characters where the species occur together. The pertinent part of the male genitalia is illustrated in the figure.


Anna's Blue flies in July and August at timberline. Adult flight time is controlled by how soon the high-elevation snow disappears in the spring. There were historic populations on Vancouver Island at low elevations that emerged earlier, but these populations have been extirpated. This species is associated with lupines on Vancouver Island, and G.R. Pratt (pers. comm.) confirmed that the only larval foodplants in California are Lupinus and Lotus, both legumes. By contrast the closely related L. idas utilizes plants in the heather family (Ericaceae) as larval foodplants.


Anna's Blue is restricted to Vancouver Island, the Coast Range immediately around the Fraser Valley, and the Cascade Mountains.



Anna's Blue is found from Vancouver Island, the Olympic Mountains, and the BC Cascades south through the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains and the northern CA coast ranges.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Plebejus annaNativeS4YellowNot Listed
Plebejus anna riceiNativeS4YellowNot Listed
Plebejus anna vancouverensisNativeS3S4BlueNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2019. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-07-08 11:14:24 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC