Sunday, 2 June 2013

Beauty in miniature ...

Springhead Hill, 1 June 2013

After much of the day’s heat had passed, I paid a visit to the beautiful Springhead Hill today with the sole aim of capturing the tiny and charismatic Small Blue (Cupido minimus) at roost. Arriving at around 5pm insects were still on the wing, though it wasn’t long before the first of a number of Small Blue were found roosting amongst grass tussocks in sheltered locations.

The Small Blue, our smallest resident butterfly, has a wingspan that can be as little as 16mm. The sexes are similar in appearance, although the male upperside is a dark black/brown with a variable dusting of blue scales at the wing bases; whereas the female is typically dark brown in colour and without the blue scaling. Both sexes have an underside that is silvery-grey in appearance with a light variable peppering of black spots.

As is the case with this location, the Small Blue is a butterfly that favours sheltered sites, which contain a suitable quantity of its larval foodplant, Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), together with grasses, and shrubs, which are used for perching and roosting. A wide variety of habitats is used, including unimproved chalk and limestone grassland, abandoned quarries, road and railway embankments and woodland rides and clearings. The first image shows a male at roost. The second and third images are both females.

With the light fading I said goodbye …

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