• allozymes;
  • biogeography;
  • Lycaeides;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • morphology;
  • speciation

Male genital morphology, allozyme allele frequencies and mtDNA sequence variation were surveyed in the butterfly species Lycaeides idas and L. melissa from across much of their range in North America. Despite clear differences in male genital morphology, wing colour patterns and habitat characteristics, genetic variation was not taxonomically or geographically structured and the species were not identifiable by either genetic data set. Genetic distances (Nei's D=0.002–0.078, calculated from allozyme data) between all populations of both species were within the range commonly observed for conspecific populations of other butterflies. The most frequent mtDNA haplotype was present in individuals of both species in populations from southern California to Wisconsin. We conclude that speciation has probably happened recently and the lack of genetic differentiation between the species is the product of either (1) recent or ongoing gene flow at neutral loci, and/or (2) an insufficiency of time for lineage sorting. The evolution of male genital morphology, wing colour patterns and ecological characteristics has proceeded more rapidly than allozyme or mtDNA evolution.