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For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
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Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Melissa Blue (Plebejus melissa melissa)

Need a main photo for this animal



Melissa Blue (Lycaeides melissa melissa) is found in open grassland areas, including weedy situations. Melissa blues use a variety of hostplants: many legumes including lupine, alfalfa, and wild licorice. Adults present probably late May when they may be confused with Karner blues, and late summer. This species is not actively tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database, but it could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of its decline.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Melissa Blue (Plebejus melissa melissa). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Plebejus melissa melissa is not tracked by the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory Program at this time (this species is not on the NHI Working List).
Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSU
Global RankG5T5
Tracked by NHIW

Species guidance

Identification: Blue butterfly with gray-white undersurface. The hindwing has a complete row of orange marginal spots and smaller iridescent pale blue marginal spots. The male is solid deep blue with black margins above. The female above is blue-brown with orange spots along the hindwing and the forewing.

Similar Species: Northern blues, Lycaeides argyrognomon, occur in the northeast, fly in early July and are dependent on a rare heath plant in pine barrens. The underside of a coral hairstreak, Harkenclenus titus, has the orange band but the upper surface is not blue. No other blues have the extensive orange band on the hindwing.

Habitat: Open grassland areas, including weedy situations.

Nectar Source: Many flowering plants in the grassland.

Host Plant: Melissas use a variety of hostplants: many legumes including lupine, alfalfa and wild licorice.

State Distribution: Northwestern counties.

Global Distribution: Western North America to western Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Status Comments: Very few reported occurrences of this subspecies which is quite common west of Wisconsin. NW Wisconsin is at the periphery of the range.

Phenology: Adults present probably late May when they may be confused with Karner blues, and late summer.

Life and Natural History: Two broods. Eggs are laid on the hostplant. Caterpillars are tended by ants on the plants and mature through five instars.

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Verify identity of populations in the northwestern portion of the state.


No additional photos are available for Melissa Blue at this time. Please consider donating a photo to the Natural Heritage Conservation program.

Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020