Plebejus lupini chlorina (McGill Trail population)

'Green' Lupine Blue

Once considered merely a greenish form of lupini monticola in the Tehachapis and Tejon Mts. (e.g. Scott 1986, p.412), chlorina is now known to be much more widespread and probably a different species from monticola altogether (see Ken Davenport's treatment in his Kern/Tulare book, for example). Chlorina is an Eriogonum umbellatum feeder that flies in June and July, whereas monticola uses E. fasciculatum and flies in May.

The Type Locality for chlorina is the Tehachapi Mountains; Skinner collected the male and female types there in July 6, 1895. The TL for monticola is Pasadena, CA. For nominate lupini, the TL was restricted by Emmel et al. to Gold Lake, Sierra County, CA. (Systematics, pp.26-7), "an area that Lorquin likely passed through" ca. 1856. Lorquin collected for Boisduval, who in 1869 named Lycaena lupini.

Along the McGill Trail below Mt. PiƱos, there is a nice patch of yellow E. umbellatum at around 7100' that supports a colony of chlorina (or a lupini subspecies closely allied with it, per John Emmel, who reared them to be sure they weren't large neurona - pers. comm.). Scott wrote that "some females have the forewing border orange as in P. neurona (...perhaps indicating past hybridization with neurona)." That tendency toward neurona-like orange in the females is definitely present in the McGill Trail population below Mt. Piños, as shown in my photos below. If I can get Tehachapi-area chlorina photos - those are true chlorina - I'll create a separate page for this McGill colony. Per Dr. Emmel, the Tehachapi chlorina flying in June/July is still in the larval stage feeding on umbellatum plants in May while monticola is flying around fasciculatum.

Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
A female Plebejus lupini chlorina on host Eriogonum umbellatum along the McGill trail at Mt Piños. June 25, 2017.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
This female had just oviposited on the umbellatum. Note the orange scaling on the forewings compared to the previous. Same place and time.
Egg of Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
And here's her bluish egg, in the middle of the picture. That's as sharp a photo as I was able to get.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
Another female; again, there is some orange scaling, including along a couple of hindwing veins.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
That leads me to this type among these particular lupini. Larger than the neurona flying at the same time atop the summit and lacking the orange along the top of the forewing (the "costal margin"), they nevertheless can resemble neurona and some misidentify as such.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
This dark beauty was my first encounter with what I now understand is the local Plebejus lupini, also along the McGill trail at Mt Piños in the same umbellatum area, July 2, 2007. Having no experience at that point with blues this far north, this fascinating butterfly totally confused me as to its relation to what I knew then and was seeing in guides: acmon and typical blue lupini monticola from the San Gabriels.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
The males of Plebejus lupini chlorina are blue (with subtle differences from population to population). Same umbellatum area at McGill Trail, June 25, 2017.
Plebejus lupini chlorina - 'Green' Lupine Blue
I revisited this colony on July 5th, 2019, and this male really stood out.

©Dennis Walker