Another week has passed since Teresa Morris of Islay Wildscapes sent me her fascinating blog about the six spot burnet moth. Today she sent me another one, more or less related to the previous one, and the pictures are again breathtaking. You can't say I didn't warn you ;-)
Teresa Morris: This week has seen the continued flight of many butterflies on Islay during periods of warm sunshine including the Common Blue Butterfly, Polyommatus icarus. On these sunny days you can sometimes find these small beautiful butterflies feeding together in small colonies in their preferred habitats including sand dunes such as at Killinallan or Ardnave, meadows, rough grassland, heathland and gardens. They can be quite elusive and difficult to find. You have the greatest chance of seeing them whilst walking through the dune grasslands as they can fly up in front of you as the grass is disturbed.
The bright blue male is unmistakable as shown in these photographs but the female is darker, and can have varying amounts of brown on the wings. They have a wingspan of up to 32mm. Continue reading.....
Common Blue butterflies occur in loose colonies. Males fly low over vegetation searching for females. Females once mated lay eggs on the leaves of their main larval foodplant, birdâ€™s-foot trefoil choosing isolated plants in open areas. These evolve into larvae which overwinter on these foodplants. Green caterpillars emerge in early summer which are about 10mms long, quite flattened in appearance, and have a shiny black head. The caterpillars feed on Common Bird's-foot-trefoil which is their main foodplant. Other foodplants include Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil Black Medick, Common Restharrow, White Clover and Lesser Trefoil.
Between July and August there is an emergence of these stunningly beautiful little blue butterflies so now is the best time to observe them.
Male Common Blue on Birds Foot Trefoil
Male Common Blue on dune grassland
Male Common Blue
With thanks to a good friend of mine on Islay for the Common Blue feeding on birds foot trefoil image.