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1 June 2015 An American Blue in Cuba, the First West Indian Record of Cupido Schrank (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Polyommatinae)
Rayner Núñez-Aguila
Author Affiliations +

The genus Cupido Schrank 1801 includes two species inhabiting continental America, C. amyntula (Boisduval, 1852) and C. comyntas (Godart, [1824]) (Warren et al. 2012). Their ranges occupy the western United States and Canada, in the first case, and southern Canada and the eastern United States to Costa Rica in the second (Glassberg 1999; Warren et al. 2012). There are no records of Cupido species from the West Indian islands.

On July 4th 2014 a worn specimen of a tailed polyommatine lycaenid was collected near midday at the entrance of “Las Maravillas de Viñales” pathway, 200 m high, Viñales municipality, Pinar del Río province, Cuba. The specimen was perching about half a meter above the ground on the tip of a Stachytarpheta bush. Five hours later, about 4:30 pm, a second nearly fresh specimen was captured a few meters away perching on a leaf of an unidentified herbaceous plant about 10 centimeters high from the ground. The specimens were quickly differentiated from other known Cuban Polyommatinae due to their tailed hindwings and the reduced size of underside pattern spots. The only other Cuban member of this subfamily having tails is Pseudochrysops bornoi yateritas Smith & Hernández, 1992 which is confined to the semi desert Southeastern coast of the Guantánamo province (Alayo & Hernández 1987; Smith & Hernández 1992; Matthews et al. 2012). Others lycaenids at the collecting site were Leptotes cassius theonus (Lucas), Hemiargus hanno filenus (Poey), Strymon limenia (Hewitson), Ministrymon azia (Hewitson), and remarkably Strymon martiolis (Herrich-Schärfer) for which previous Cuban records were restricted to coastal areas (Alayo & Hernández 1987; Smith et al. 1994). This is the second inland record for S. martiolis after that from Camagüey, central-eastern Cuba, by Fernández (2007).

The specimens, deposited in the Insitute of Ecology and Systematics, were identified as males of Cupido comyntas (Fig. 1) by comparison with pictures at the Butterflies of America website (Warren et al. 2012) and pictures and characters at Glassberg (1999). The collecting site is a moderately disturbed shrubby area surrounded by relatively well preserved natural habitats, mainly limestone semideciduous forest. The species seems to have had a successful colonization event since the inland location of the site is 20 km distant from the nearest point from the North coast and more than 130 km from the Westernmost point of Cuba, the tip of the Guanahacabibes peninsula. The species in Cuba is probably using host plants belonging to most of genera that comyntas uses in Florida and mentioned by Heppner et al. (2007) including Desmodium Desv., Galactia P. Browne, Medicago L., Trifolium L., and Vicia L. The species arrival to Cuba probably took place in the last decade since works published in the previous one that treated the butterfly fauna of Western Cuba didn't mention it (Smith & Hernández 1992; Hernández et al. 1994; Roque-Albelo 1994; Roque-Albelo et al. 1995; Hernández et al. 1995; Núñez & Barro 2003).

Without additional information it is difficult to establish the arrival point. The lack of known colonization point, together with the absence of females, makes it difficult to correctly assign the specimens to one of the three described subspecies of C. comyntas. However, almost surely the species could reach Cuba from the Yucatán peninsula since at the other point closest to Western Cuba, South Florida, were inhabits the nominate subspecies it is very rare (Calhoun 1997). This hypothesis is reinforced when comparing the specimens collected in Cuba which have reduced orange spots at the hindwings underside, as in C. comyntas texana, that inhabits Yucatán, and unlike these at C. c. comyntas.

Fig. 1.

Male specimens of Everes comyntas collected at “Las Maravillas de Viñales” pathway, Viñales municipality, Pinar del Río province, Cuba. Left column specimen collected near midday, right column specimen collected 4:30 pm, on July 4, 2014.


Although the presence of Cupido comyntas in Cuba is surprising, there is a long history of colonizing events by butterflies that reached Cuba from adjacent continental areas, such as the Yucatán and Southern United States, during the twentieth century. Species that successfully extended their distribution to Cuba during that time are Euptoieta claudio (Cramer), Phyciodes phaon (Edwards), Eurema boisduvaliana (Felder & Felder), Aguna claxon Evans, and Anteos clorinde (Godait) among others (Sánchez & Villalba 1934; Torre 1943; Alayo & Hernández 1987). During the same time other species reached Cuba as vagrants or established for short periods of time only to disappear later: Colias eurytheme Boisduval, Pontia protodice (Boisduval & Leconte), Libytheana carinenta bachmani (Kirtland), and Polygonia interrogationis (Fabricius), among others (Sánchez & Villalba 1934; Torre 1943; Zayas & García 1965; Núñez & Barro 2003).


I am grateful to Maike Hernández and Luis A. Lajonchere for their companion ship during field work. John and Monika kindly switched their Glassberg book with my copy of Mayo & Hernández Atlas. To James K. Adams and others for reading of the manuscript and making opportune suggestions and corrections.

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Rayner Núñez-Aguila "An American Blue in Cuba, the First West Indian Record of Cupido Schrank (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Polyommatinae)," The Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 69(2), 142-143, (1 June 2015).
Received: 21 July 2014; Accepted: 29 September 2014; Published: 1 June 2015
potential host plants
southern United States
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