Common Name: "Agricultural" Melissa Blue
The Lycaeides melissa complex is evolving even as we watch, with several different entities present in our region. "Agricultural" melissa occurs east of the Sierra Nevada and is common in Sierra Valley. It breeds on cultivated alfalfa but is never abundant enough to cause economic damage. It may also utilize both Lupines and species of the genus Astragalus within the region. Molecularly there are two distinct types, one found from Sierraville north, the other in Carson Valley and at Verdi, NV. Alfalfa-feeding melissa have temporarily colonized roadside feral plants at Donner, but do not seem to persist-perhaps because the host is rather uncommon. At Sierra Valley, triple-brooded (May-October); usually found in ag fields but also at roadside flowers, such as Sulphur Flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), Asters, Cardaria, Canada Thistle, etc. Females have bold orange markings above, usually fused into a band, and seldom have any blue. The melissa complex does not occur west of the Sierran crest.