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Blue Butterfly

Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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Introduction to Blue Butterfly

The common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) belongs to the Lycaenidae family and the Polyommatinae subfamily. The butterfly can be found all over the Palearctic. The Polyommatinae family of butterflies is known as the blues because of the colour of their wings. Males with blue wings with a black-brown border and a white fringe are known as common blues. Females are usually brown with blue dusting and orange spots on top.

Blue Butterfly Name and Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Family: Lycaenidae

Genus: Polyommatus

Siegmund Adrian von Rottemburg was the first to describe this species in 1775. Little blew argus, blew argus, mixed argus, selvedg'd argus, ultramarine blue, cerulean butterfly, and alexis are some of the common blue butterfly names for P. icarus.

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The wingspan of Polyommatus icarus is 28–36 millimetres (1.1–1.4 in). With a thin black line, the dorsal side of the wings is an iridescent lilac-blue, bright violet-blue, or almost hyacinth-blue. Females have brown or black-brown wings with a band of reddish-yellow spots (marginal spots) around the edges and typically some blue at the middle. The amount of blue and brown varies greatly depending on where you are. The female's top wings may be mostly blue, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, but there are always red spots. Males have a greyish or dust-grey base colour on the ventral side, while females have a more brownish hue.

A series of red or orange spots run along the edge of the hindwing and extend onto the forewing in both sexes, though they are usually fainter there, particularly in males, where they are sometimes missing entirely. On the hindwing, there are about a dozen black-centred white spots (ocelli) and nine on the forewing. In Chapman's and Escher's blues, there is typically one in the middle of the forewing cell, which is missing in Chapman's and Escher's blues. In contrast to the chalk hill and Adonis blues, the fringes on the outer edge of the wings are uniformly white and not crossed with black lines (that is, the common blue lacks checkering).

The caterpillar is small, pale green with yellow stripes, and very slender, as is typical of Lycaenid larvae.


Europe, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and east through the Palearctic to Northern China are all home to the common blue butterfly. It was recently discovered in Quebec, Canada. It's very popular in the British Isles. Since the 1970s, its distribution pattern has decreased by 15%. 

The common blue is the most common and widespread blue in Britain and Ireland (and possibly Europe). It can be found all the way north to Orkney, as well as on the majority of the Outer Hebrides. Meadows, coastal dunes, forest clearings, and several man-made environments are among the grassland habitats where their food plants can be found. 

This species was only recently introduced to eastern Canada. Ara Sarafian, an amateur entomologist who studied the butterfly from 2005 to 2008, discovered it in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. The butterfly was known as Polyommatus icarus, a newly introduced butterfly to Canada and North America, after he contacted the Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa.


Flowery or grassy places, warm and cold, open or wooded areas, and all altitudes up to high alpine meadows at an elevation of 0–2,700 m (0–9,000 ft) above sea level are all home to these butterflies. It can be found in small numbers in forest clearings, meadows, heathlands, sand dunes, along railway embankments, and under cliffs, but it prefers chalk or limestone grassland.

P. icarus was once a widespread species in Europe and Asia, and one of the most widely distributed butterflies in the United Kingdom. It is known to tolerate a wide variety of environments, including grasslands. Since 1901, the butterfly population has decreased by approximately 74%. This may be attributed to the fact that the butterfly's favourite host plant, Lotus corniculatus, has lost 46 percent of its total land area since 1901. This host plant is preferred for two reasons: it provides nutrients for the adults as well as food for the larva after it hatches.

Food Resources

The larvae eat plants in the Leguminosae family, which includes beans. Food plants reported include Lathyrus species, Vicia species, Vicia cracca, Oxytropis campestris, bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Oxytropis pyrenaica, Astragalus aristatus, Astragalus onobrychis, Astragalus pinetorum, black medick (Medicago lupulina), Medicago romanica, Medicago falcata White clover, Thymus serpyllum, lesser trefoil (Trifolium dubium), Trifolium pratense, and lesser trefoil (Trifolium dubium) (Trifolium repens).

Common blues take flavonoids from their host plants and store them in their wings as UV-absorbing pigments. Females have flavonoid pigments that attract males. When looking for virgin females, males patrolling suitable environments stop and inspect females with flavonoid pigments. This may be due to the fact that UV-absorbing flavonoid pigments enhance colour saturation in females, allowing them to stand out more. Other benefits of sequestering flavonoids include the protection of eggs from harmful UV chemical reactions, as the butterflies will absorb UV rays and the flavonoids will provide a chemical defence.

Flavonoid sequestration is much more successful when flavonoids are derived from natural host plants rather than diets. Flavonoids are sequestered 60% more by females than by males. This abundance of females will improve visibility, but it may also reveal details about feeding habits and, as a result, the quality of a potential mate. In Polyommatus butterflies, flavonoid sequestration is an integral part of intraspecific visual contact and sexual signalling.

Life Cycle

The common blue butterfly eats leaves as a caterpillar. It feeds on wildflower nectar and excrement as an adult butterfly. The adult has a three-week lifespan.

As they protect territories against rivals and seek out the more reclusive females, males are also very visible. There are two broods a year in the south of Britain, one in May and June and the other in August and September. Northern England has only one brood, which flies from June to September. In years with a long warm season, a partial third brood will occur in the south, flying into October.

Eggs: For around eight days, the egg stage lasts. The eggs are white and flattened spheres in shape. The eggs are very tiny, measuring about 0.60 millimetres (132 in) in diameter. The egg sac's background colour is a pale greenish-grey, with a white arrangement. Eggs are laid singly on the food plant's young shoots.

Larvae: Around a week or two after the eggs are laid, the larvae emerge. P. icarus larvae eat the undersides of leaves, causing blotching. Hibernation happens when the larvae are half-grown. They attract Myrmica, Lasius, Formica, and Plagiolepis ants, but not as many as some other blue ant species. The chrysalis is an olive green/brown chrysalis that forms on the ground and is visited by ants from the genera Myrmica, Lasius, Formica, and Plagiolepiss, who will also take it into their nests. When the butterfly is living in the anthill, the larva produces honeydew, which the ants consume. The ants' relationship with blue common larvae is characterised as facultatively mutualistic.

Instars of Larvae: The larvae have five instars. Larvae emerge during the first instar and consume the egg's crown. The larvae's first segment is wide and rounded, followed by smaller segments. The body is a light green colour that appears whitish in the light. This phase lasts approximately nine days. After the first moult, the second instar adds a couple of body segments to the larvae, making the body greener. The third instar indicates that the larvae are eating more and increasing in size. They have a black head and legs and are about 3.2 millimetres (0.13 in) long. The larvae in the fourth and fifth instars turn a bright green colour, have ten body segments, and are about 13 millimetres (0.51 in) long.

Larval Growth and Development: Temperature, as well as the quality and availability of food, are thought to influence larval growth rates. P. icarus larvae are oligophagous, which means they feed on a variety of Fabaceae host plants and have a mutualistic relationship with ants. The average development period for both male and female larvae is longer with longer day lengths, leading to earlier times in the season. It takes longer for larvae to grow if they are born earlier in the season. They take less time to mature when they are born later. As a result, the external effect of photoperiod has an impact on the larvae's development time.

Pupae: Pupation takes place under silk strands at the base of the food plant and lasts about two weeks. The chrysalis is an olive green/brown chrysalis that forms on the ground and is guarded by ants. Ants can help protect the pupa by burying it to keep it safe from predators.

Adults: The male, with his blue upper wings, stands out more than the female, who has brown upper wings. Males travel greater distances in search of fertile females in territories with fertile females. Females fly lower in the sky in search of nectar and a suitable location to lay their eggs. The wingspan varies between 29 and 36 millimetres (1.1 and 1.4 inches). Copulation happens almost immediately when the sexes meet, normally without some kind of courtship ritual.

Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly

Eastern tailed blue butterfly(Cupido comyntas), also known as Everes comyntas, is a common butterfly found in eastern North America. It is a small butterfly with a small thin tail that distinguishes it from other blues in its range.

Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Phylum: Arthropoda

  • Class: Insecta

  • Order: Lepidoptera

  • Family: Lycaenidae

  • Genus: Cupido

  • Species: C. comyntas

Description: Males have a blue upperside to their wings, while females have a lighter blue to brown or charcoal colouring, though both sexes have purple and pink variations. The colouration on the underside varies from bluish-white to tan. On the back of the hindwings, there are two to three black to orange chevron-shaped spots (the outermost one is always faint) and a trailing tail of the innermost of the spots. With its wings outstretched, the butterfly is 21 to 29 mm (0.83 to 1.14 in) wide and slightly shorter in weight.

Eastern tailed blues eat a variety of legumes and are known to secrete a substance that attracts ants. In response, the ant defends the butterfly's larva from other predators.

Ecology: The butterfly can be found all over eastern North America, as well as Central America. The eastern tailed-blue butterfly and the much less common but similar western tailed-blue butterfly share a habitat boundary in the Great Plains. Eastern tailed blues can also be found in the central part of California, as well as parts of Oregon and Washington, where they possibly adapted to the environment after being accidentally introduced by humans. The Rocky Mountain area is almost devoid of animals. It prefers open, sunny environments.

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Pea Blue Butterfly

Lampides boeticus, also known as the pea blue or long-tailed blue, is a small lycaenid (or gossamer-winged) butterfly. The Latin name for this species is boeticus, which refers to Baetica, a Roman province in the Iberian Peninsula. The long streamers on its hind wings, the male's bright iridescent blue colour, and peas, the butterfly's usual host plant, are all references to its common name. Europe, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Australia are all home to this species.

Pea Blue Butterfly Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Phylum: Arthropoda

  • Class: Insecta

  • Order: Lepidoptera

  • Family: Lycaenidae

  • Genus: Lampides

  • Species: L. boeticus

Description: Males have a wingspan of 24–32 mm, while females have a wingspan of 24–34 mm. Males have a mostly blue-violet upper face of the wings with brown edges, while females have only a small amount of blue colour in the centre of the wings (despite being exceptionally large for their family) (sexual dimorphism). 

The hindwings of both sexes have a small, long tail and two black spots in the anal angle. The ocher underside of the wings is speckled with white markings and a broader white submarginal streak. 

A pair of small black eye-spots flank each tail on the underside of each hindwing, with an orange marginal spot at the anal angle. Although the pea-blue is slightly larger than both species, it can be confused with Leptotes pirithous and Cacyreus marshalli.

Ecology: Three generations per year are possible for this species. Adults are heavy migrants who fly from February to early November. The eggs are disc-shaped and white with a greenish tinge. They can grow up to 0.5 mm in diameter. They are laid singly on the host plant's flower buds.

Caterpillars that are older are green or reddish-brown in colour, with a dark dorsal stripe. They grow to be 14-15 mm long. Pupae grow to be 9-10 mm long. They're light greyish-brown with a dark dorsal stripe and medium-sized dark spots. Many Fabaceae species, including Medicago, Crotalaria, Polygala, Sutherlandia, Dolichos, Cytisus, Spartium, and Lathyrus species, provide food for the larvae. 

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FAQs on Blue Butterfly

1. What Does the Blue Butterfly Symbolize?

Ans: Butterflies are also widely believed to represent a person's spirit, or soul, in the past, present, or future. The colour blue in a butterfly is thought to represent happiness, colour, or a change in fortune. A blue butterfly is often thought to grant wishes.

2. Which Blue Butterfly is Extinct?

Ans: The Xerces blue (Glaucopsyche xerces) is an extinct butterfly species belonging to the Lycaenidae family of gossamer-winged butterflies. The species was found in the Sunset District of the San Francisco Peninsula's coastal sand dunes. 

Classification -

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Phylum: Arthropoda

  • Class: Insecta

  • Order: Lepidoptera

  • Family: Lycaenidae

  • Genus: Glaucopsyche

  • Species: †G. Xerces

3. Where Can I See Big Blue Butterflies?

Ans: Collard Hill is the only spot where you can see this butterfly for free right now. We run it as an open-access platform from early June to early July. During the season, over 1,000 people visit the site, and nearly everyone sees the butterfly while taking in the views of the Somerset Levels.

4. What Do Large Blue Butterflies Eat?

Ans: The big blue butterfly is well-known in the field of behavioural ecology because it has a one-of-a-kind parasitic relationship with the red ant Myrmica sabuleti. Early in its life cycle, the species eats thyme and wild marjoram oregano as food plants.