Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus)
The Long-tailed Blue, Lampides boeticus, (Linnaeus, 1767) is one of the most widespread butterflies in the world, being found throughout southern Europe, Africa, southern Asia, India and Australia, extending eastwards to parts of Oceania including Hawaii; however, it has historically been one of the rarest migrants to the British Isles.
2013 was an extremely exciting year for many migrant species, particularly in the southern counties. L. boeticus was once again recorded, with the first Sussex record coming on Thursday, 8th August, when a single female was observed and photographed in a garden in Arundel, West Sussex. 2015 has already seen records of L. boeticus. These range from as far west as Devon, on the 5th July 2015, through the southern coastal counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent, and along the east coast as far north as Suffolk. Although two eggs, showing signs of larval emergence, were discovered in a West Sussex location on Friday, 21st August, suggesting a mid August primary migration, the first Sussex record of an adult came on Friday, 28th August, when a female was recorded in a private garden in Worthing, West Sussex.
I have been very fortunate in observing eggs, larvae and adults, including a mating pair, in Sussex. With our warming climate, I can’t help wondering if we may experience more frequent immigration of this beautiful little insect. Find a warm coastal location and, with at least some Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) present, you stand an increasing chance of finding the Pea Blue. A small selection of images from this season, depicting a female and ovum showing signs of larval emergence, are shown above.