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Keywords:

  • Biogeography;
  • butterflies;
  • coevolution;
  • Eriogonum;
  • host shift;
  • Philotes;
  • Philotiella;
  • Polygonaceae;
  • sequential evolution;
  • sympatric speciation

The lycaenid butterfly genus Euphilotes, consisting of five species and several dozen subspecies, is confined to western North America. Each subspecies utilizes one or a few species of Eriogonum (Polygonaceae) as larval hosts; larvae feed entirely on pollen and developing seeds. Euphilotes populations are (with few exceptions) univoltine and fly in synchrony with the initial (c. 2 weeks) annual flowering periods of their hosts. Euphilotes evolution coincides with shifts to new hosts, frequently with different bloom periods. Often both inter- and intraspecific populations occur in sympatry. Although interspecific populations may fly in synchrony and utilize the same hosts, sympatric intraspecific populations use different hosts and generally fly allochronically. Analyses of Euphilotes populations using biochemical, morphological, and life history characters, do not support either coevolution or sequential evolution with Eriogonum but are more consistent with opportunistic adaptation to new hosts having different bloom periods.