I was about to do a different subject for today’s blog when along came this female Common Blue Butterfly and started feeding a a Daisy on our uncut lawn! I don’t remember ever seeing a Common Blue in our Sheffield garden so maybe last summer’s heat helped this species locally. Females have variable amounts of blue and brown on their upper wings, while male are all-blue on upper-wings (I include a photo of a male for identification purposes, even though I haven’t seen one here- yet! The photo is from a Sussex garden). Common Blue caterpillars feed mainly on Bird’s Foot Trefoil, and sometimes on white Clover, Restharrow etc. The adults love being in the sun, on grassland, waste ground, road verges etc. They are fairly widespread, living up to their name. Conditions: Cloud giving way to sun. Temperature Max 14 Min 7C.
It is time for the Big Butterfly Count, and wildlife guru’s from David Attenborough to Chris Packham are urging people to take part. It is easy- there is a phone app and identifying pictures and it matters as much if you see nothing in your 15 minute survey as it does if you see a lot. I was lucky to see these male Common Blue Butterflies at the weekend, which shows what a small patch of wild flowers can do, as there were several other species in a small garden patch. Round the corner, where an industrial site has pulled out a species-rich verge and hedge, there was devastation-
where once I saw 40 Common Blues at a glance, I saw two. Every wild space counts. Common Blue caterpillars exude a sweet substance which attract ants, which then deter predators- such evolutionary finesse. Conditions: Still dry hot days with crops and vegetation visibly damaged. Temperature: Max 25 Min 14 C.
Common Blue Butterfly– I have been watching this, our most widespread but still declining blue butterfly, while down South but it can be seen on grasslands, in urban cemeteries, on dunes, and as far north as Orkney, though it avoids mountain terrain. The female has mostly brown upper sides, with a varying amount of blue, while males are completely blue on their upper wings- see photo’s. The jewel-like patterning of the underwings are beautiful but make them hard to spot- stand in a grassy area, when it is sunny, and just watch to see if any fly around- t
he best way to spot them. Conditions: Sunny intervals and showers. Temperature: Max 18- Min 14C.
Common Blue Butterflies– these breed throughout the UK, except for the Highlands of Wales and Scotland. These individuals were mostly
feeding on one of their favourite food-plants- the Birds Foot Trefoil. They also feed on thistles, knapweeds, fleabane and other flowers of the pea-family. Male Common Blues have bright blue upper wings while the females upper wings are predominantly brown. Common Blues have two broods in the south and one in the north. The males are more active and patrol their territories- I watched two males having frequent spiral climbs sparring over a territory. Common Blues roost communally at night, often with several to one grass stem. Conditions: A still and sunny day. Temperature: Max 20- Min 10c.