These are the Blue family of Butterflies that Lorraine and I have spotted so far in either our Garden or the bank at the back of the garden since we began back in late July 2000. Where possible we try to image the different sexes if there is an obvious difference between them. They are presented in the order in which we usually first see them. Note the Brown Argus and Small Copper have hardly been seen in our garden in recent years.
Lorraine and I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures - even though they are probably not the best ever taken of Butterflies!
Holly Blue Butterfly
The Holly Blue is usually the first of the blue butterflies to be seen in early spring and is often seen in gardens, hedgerows, field edges and where ever there is Holly and or Ivy - usually found in churchyards. It is mainly found in England and Wales with a smattering of locations in Ireland. There are often two broods with the first appearing in late March/early April and the second usually late June to early September. The underside is quite silvery blue with simple black dots for markings which once it settles helps in identifying it from other Blue species. The male has a blue upper surfaces whilst the female has dark patches along the tips of the upper wings. Food plants include Holly and Ivy, Dogwoods, Gorse and Bramble.
Common Blue Butterfly
The Common Blue Butterfly is one of the most widespread of the small butterflies found all across the UK and Ireland. The Males have bright blue upper surfaces whilst the Females are brown with a hint of a blue sheen towards their abdomens and often have orange spots along the wings. The Females colour can vary across the region with Scottish examples often being blue on the upper sides. The brown females can often be confused with the Brown Argus Butterfly. They can be found from May to September with two main broods between these months but there are widespread variations across the UK and Ireland. Food plants include Common Bird’s-foot trefoil and White Clover amongst others and they are often seen in grassy places and waste ground.
Brown Argus Butterfly
Aricia agestis agesti
The Brown Argus is a small brown butterfly that can be found on chalk and limestones areas. The Brown Argus distribution can be mapped using a diagonal line from roughly Whitby on the NE coast down to the Bristol channel in the SW but can also be found in southern and northern coastal stretches of Wales and some coastal areas of Devon and Cornwall. Its more northern relative, the Northern or Mountain Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes artaxerxes) is found in Scotland and Northern England. The Brown Argus has two main broods and can be seen roughly from May to September but the further north in its range it may be single brooded and fly from June and July. Food plants include Common Rock-rose, Dove’s foot Crane’s bill and similar plants. The Brown Argus main habitats are similar to the Common Blue.
As noted elsewhere the Brown Argus can easily be confused with the Female Common Blue. However it is the difference in the spots on the forewing underside where the Female CB has two extra spots below the elongated single spot as shown in this enlargement. These spots are absent in the Brown Argus. Here is a direct comparison between the undersides of the Brown Argus on the left and the Female Common Blue on the right.
The Small Copper Butterfly
The Small Copper is a stunning little butterfly and like the Brown Argus the colour would not suggest it is part of the Blue family! Like a lot of ‘blue’ species it likes chalk but has a wide variety of habitats including grass, heath and coast. There can be two and sometimes three broods during the year beginning in May and extending into September with an occasional appearance in October and even November if the weather is mild enough. Food plants include Sheeps and Common Sorrel and sometimes Broad leaved Dock. The Small Copper can be found across the UK and Ireland but with fewer locations in Scotland.