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

Plebejus saepiolus Kluk, 1780
Greenish 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 #74163)

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Distribution of Plebejus saepiolus in British Columbia.
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Species Information


Despite the common name, there is no green on the wings of either sex of the Greenish Blue in BC. On the upperside, the male wing is a uniform blue with wide black margins and white fringe. The upperside wing ground colour of the female is brown, with sometimes a flush of blue scales at the base. Sometimes the female hindwing has a weak submarginal row of tawny spots. On the underside, the male ischalk white and the female brown. Both have matching rows of postmedian and submarginal black spots.

Immature Stages



Vancouver Island populations are the endemic subspecies, P.s. insulanus Blackmore, 1919 (TL: Victoria, BC). Mainland populations are the boreal subspecies, P.s. amica (W.H. Edwards, 1863) (TL: Fort Simpson, NWT).

Genus Description

In Latin Plebejus means "plebeian" or "common." The name Plebejus is derived from the Plebeji or the fifth of six phalanges in which Linnaeus placed all the small species, such as blues and skippers - thus, the common or smaller and less colourful species.

The labides of the male genitalia is elongated and usually blunt at the tip. The falces is half the length of the labides. The dorsal tip of the valve is toothed. The ventral tip is rounded and not developed to any particular shape, but projects caudad.

This genus has at least five Palearctic and one Nearctic species. The generic name Plebejus Kluk, 1802, is a synonym of Plebejus Kluk, 1780 (Paclt 1955; Karsholt and Razowshi 1996).


Adults of the Greenish Blue are observed from late May to July, with a few records in early August. The species is assumed to be univoltine. Emmel and Emmel (1973) record several species of clovers, Trifolium spp., as larval foodplants and state that the butterfly overwinters as an immature larva. In southern BC and the adjacent USA, the Greenish Blue is often found along abandoned or infrequently used dirt roads in association with introduced clover (Trifolium pratense). In Colorado, Sharp and Parks (1973) did a mark-release-recapture study showing that the Greenish Blue did not disperse well and stayed close to the larval foodplant, Trifolium hybridum, which was also the adult nectar source. This lack of dispersion may account for the loss of Vancouver Island populations, if the native foodplant was eliminated and there were no introduced clovers nearby for the species to utilize. One reference from the early literature indicated that clovers were not the only larval foodplant for the Greenish Blue. Fletcher (1908) stated that he saw females ovipositing on flower buds of Hedysarum boreale at Kenistina, AB, on 25 July 1907. Since this plant genus is not found on Vancouver Island, either the now uncommon native Trifolium or other legumes were the larval foodplant of P.s. insulanus.


The Greenish Blue is found throughout BC except in the immediate coastal regions. It is associated with native clovers but is also found in old fields and the sides of old dirt roads, where the species utilizes introduced short, white clovers.



The Greenish Blue occurs from central BC south through BC to southern CA and NM and east to NS. In the eastern USA, it is known only from the Great Lakes states.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Plebejus saepiolusNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Plebejus saepiolus amicaNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Plebejus saepiolus insulanusNativeSHRedE (May 2012)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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: 2021-05-18 7:51:12 PM]
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