Holly blue butterfly

Holly blue

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Holly blue butterfly

The holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) is a butterfly that belongs to the lycaenids or blues family and is native to Eurasia and North America.

The holly blue has pale silver-blue wings spotted with pale ivory dots. Seitz describes it “Male above shining violet blue, only the apical portion of the costal margin being minutely edged with white. The female has both wings broadly bordered with dark, the margin of the hindwing bearing vestiges of ocelli. Underside silver-white, in the disc a row of black dots, some of which are elongate, and before the margin blackish shadowy dots.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Celastrina
  • Species: C. argiolus
  • Binomial name: Celastrina argiolus

Introduction

The Holly Blue is primarily found in the southern half of the British Isles, and is a frequent visitor to gardens. This species is renowned for fluctuating wildly in numbers, forming a predictable cycle over a few years, believed to be caused by parasitism from the wasp Listrodomus nycthemerus whose sole host is the Holly Blue. The wasp lays its eggs in Holly Blue larvae, with a single adult wasp eventually emerging from the Holly Blue pupa. In England and Wales this species is widespread and common, south of a line running from Cumberland in the west to County Durham in the east. This species is also found on the Isle of Man and throughout Ireland, but is absent from Scotland except as a scarce vagrant.

Habitat

This butterfly is found in many different types of habitat, including gardens, churchyards, woodland, parks, and anywhere its foodplants and nectar sources can be found.

The Holly Blue is easily identified in early spring, as it emerges well before other blue butterflies. It tends to fly high around bushes and trees, whereas other grassland blues usually stay near ground level. It is much the commonest blue found in parks and gardens where it congregates around Holly (in spring) and Ivy (in late summer).

Size and Family

  • Family: Blues
  • Size: Small
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 35mm

What does the holly blue butterfly eat

Adults drink oozing sap, aphid honeydew and carrion juices. Caterpillars usually eat holly and ivy, but also dogwood, spindle and heathers.

Also more: Essex skipper

blue butterfly pictures

Holly blue butterfly

Holly blue butterfly

Holly blue butterfly

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