Thursday, 20 August 2015

The bluest of blue ...

Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus)

P. bellargus is a species of chalk downland, where its discrete colonies may be found in warm, sheltered locations.

The male - three separate individuals pictured above - has the most intensely coloured blue wings that gives this butterfly its name. It can be found flying low over vegetation, seeking out the less-conspicuous females that are a rich chocolate brown in colour. Like its close relative, the Chalk Hill Blue (Polyommatus coridon), the distribution of this species follows the distribution of Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), which, in turn, follows the distribution of chalk and limestone grassland. However, this species has a more restricted distribution than P. coridon, indicating more precise habitat requirements. This butterfly can be found in large numbers where it does occur, such as the chalk downloads of East and West Sussex. Mill Hill, Malling Down, Cissbury Ring and High and Over are all reliable sites and each holds variable populations.

This is a warmth-loving species, preferring sheltered, south-facing slopes where the turf is closely-cropped, probably because it provides a higher temperature for the immature stages or because this is a requirement for the ant species that attend the Adonis Blue larva and pupa. The loss of grazing by rabbits, for example, can cause the sward to become overgrown and can render a site unsuitable for this beautiful species.

Quite simply a stunningly beautiful creature …

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