CNHP Environmental Review Coordinator and photographer Michael Menefee recently captured photos of the rare hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus). Menefee took the photos for the Celastrina Project, a research effort led by CNHP zoologist Rob Schorr. The project funds CSU honor’s students to conduct research on rare species like the hops blue.
Hops blue butterflies occur in a very narrow global range, found only in Colorado and Montana. Colorado’s population are scattered along the Front Range from Larimer County south to El Paso County. This delicate butterfly relies on wild hops (Humulus lupulus var. neomexicana) to complete its life cycle. Along the Front Range, wild hops grow in cool, moist canyons.
|A hops blue butterfly rests on poison ivy at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Photo by Michael Menefee.|
The stunning image below, captured by Menefee, shows a female hops blue butterfly ovipositing her eggs into a small male wild hops flower.
|A female hops blue butterfly ovipositing her eggs into a wild hops flower. Photo by Michael Menefee.|
Menefee took the photos at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, while accompanying two CSU honor’s students: Alyssa Meier and Rachel Maison. The students have been conducting research this summer at the Air Force Academy on the resident population of hops blue butterflies.
|A resting hops blue butterfly on a wild hop leaf. Photo by Michael Menefee.|