This species of butterfly falls in a subfamily of butterflies known as the blues because …well, the top-side of their wings is blue in color. They are generally one of the first blues seen each year. Females lay their eggs on flower buds of host plants and the larvae feed on the buds and opening flowers. As larvae, many butterflies in this subfamily “associate with ants; the ants provide protection from natural enemies in exchange for sugary secretions from specialized glands near the tail ends of the larvae” (Pacific Northwest Insects). They can be found in the western United States west from the Great Plains; southwestern Canada; and northern Mexico. There is a lot of debate as to the subspecies breakdown and many names currently appear to be interchangeable depending on the source. And as you can see from the two photos, they can also vary considerably in color and pattern.
Photos by: Karen Weaver on 4/24/21 near Darby, MT