Female Common Blue butterfly-Polyommatus icarus pictures

The Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) is the most widespread, small butterfly across Europe. It is a member of the Lycaenidae family and can be found in Asia and North Africa as well.
Its habitat is anywhere, where its food plants are found: a variety of grassland, meadows, woodland clearings but also in waste ground and urban habitats.

The female Common blue is usually brown, with a row of orange-red spots on the outer edges of the wings that fade along the forewings. Sometimes she has a blue dusting near the body.
Male upper sides are an iridescent lilac blue with a thin dark brown or black border on the wings.
Both female and male have a white fringe on the outer edges of the wings but their coloration is variable within local populations.
Common blue female butterfly-Polyommatus icarus-upper side
The underside of both sexes are similar in pattern. Besides the row of orange-red spots on the outer edges of the wings, they have about twelve black centered white spots on the hind wings, nine on the forewings and an elongated spot in the middle of each wings.

The presence of the blue tingle in a female Common Blue is highly variable, some are almost completely blue, others completely brown. She can be easily confused with the Brown Argus which is also a member of the blue subfamily (Polyommatinae). They can be differentiated by the pattern on their underside:
- the Common Blue has an extra spot, closer to the body (marked with A), before the elongated spot in the middle of the forewing, that is absent in the Brown Argus.
Female Common blue butterfly-wings' underside pattern
- unlike the Common Blue, Brown Argus has an extra spot on its hindwings, very close to the spots on the leading edge, forming an 8 shape (marked with B).
Brown Argus butterly-wing pattern
Photo source: Wikipedia

Female common blue head down on a grass leafThere are two generations a year, the first brood flying in May and June.
I've snapped this one right at the start of the second brood that emerges at the end of July. They should be around for the whole of August and even September.

Males are the more active , so more difficult to capture. The female spends most of her time nectaring, resting and egg-laying.
She lays a single egg at a time on the upper side of a grass leaf or on young shoots of their food plants.
On boring, cloudy days this species roosts head down on a grass stem, like in the picture at the left.

Their preferred food plant is Bird's foot trefoil but they feed on Black Medick, White Clover Trifolium repens, Lesser Trefoil Trifolium dubium and Common Restharrow as well.

Pictures were taken in my neighborhood, at the Somesul Mic river banks in Cluj-Napoca (by me).

3 comments:

Janie said...

Very interesting information about differentiating the 2 species. Great photos with amazing detail!

Kalyan said...

Simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

Míriam Luiza said...

Oi Maia! Suas fotos são sempre fabulosas! Aprendo muito com você! Obrigado por seu comentário no meu blog. Meus pais fizeram 55 anos de casados, e eles são um exemplo de vida para mim. Feliz dia dos pais para você e sua família!

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