Small Blue (Cupido minimus)
Species

Male. Taken at Durlston NNR, Dorset, on July 19th 2011.
(1/160th sec at f11. Approx 3.75x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Male underside. Taken at Cotley Hill, Wilts, on June 9th 2013.
(1/100th sec at f11. Approx 3.75x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Female. Taken at Lardon Chase, Berks, on May 18th 2014.
(1/250th sec at f13. Approx 3.75x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Description

Wing span: 18 - 27 mm

The Small Blue is the smallest British resident butterfly. The sexes are similar in appearance, although the male upperside is almost black with a dusting of blue scales, whereas the female is more dark brown in colour. Both sexes have a silvery-grey underside, which resembles that of the Holly Blue.

Most colonies of this butterfly are in southern England and South Wales, with isolated populations in Cumbria, the Scottish Borders, and northern Scotland. In Ireland it is mainly a coastal species.

Most colonies are on downloand or in quarries, but they are also found on road and railway verges. They prefer sheltered sites with sparse vegetation as these conditions suit the larval foodplant.

Adults generally appear in early May in southern sites, reaching a peak at the end of May and beginning of June. There is a partial second generation in southern England, with adults appearing in late July and August. The larva is the over-wintering stage.

The primary larval foodplant is Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria).

Adults will visit flowers such as Bird's-foot Trefoil and Kidney Vetch.

Males gather in sunny sheltered areas, where they perch on tall grasses or low shrubs with wings half-open, ready to investigate any passing insect. Most adults stay within the colony, but some move up to half a miles from it.

This species has Near Threatened status on the UK list.

Sightings

20-May-2018 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (2)
15-May-2018 : Lardon Chase, Berks (1)

14-Jun-2017 : Daneway Banks, Gloucs (1)
09-Jun-2017 : Paklenica National Park, Croatia
06-Jun-2017 : Irinovac, Croatia
28-May-2017 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (7+)
07-May-2017 : Lardon Chase, Berks (1m)

25-Jun-2016 : Daneway Banks, Gloucs (1f)
29-May-2016 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (20+m)
22-May-2016 : Lardon Chase, Berks (6+m,1f)

22-Aug-2015 : Yeosden Bank, Bucks (2)
16-Aug-2015 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (5m)
24-Jul-2015 : nr Kirilova polyana, Bulgaria
21-Jul-2015 : nr Petrovo, Bulgaria
07-Jun-2015 : Lardon Chase, Berks (4m,6f)
07-Jun-2015 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (3m)
16-May-2015 : Pitstone, Bucks (50+)

16-Jun-2014 : Daneway Banks, Gloucs (2f)
01-Jun-2014 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (1)
18-May-2014 : Lardon Chase, Berks (2m,1f)