Holly Blue, Go Be Wild, Barbara Copperthwaite

Holly Blue

 

It's easy to miss this tiny, delicate butterfly (it's wingspan is a mere 3cm) which in flight looks like a petal tumbling gently through the air. When sunlight shines through its wings, it can seem almost a pale lilac, and at rest you will finally get to appreciate its full beauty, as the sky blue wings open briefly. All too often, though, the Holly Blue rests with wings closed, so that only the pale underwings can be seen, the powder-blue near the body fading quickly to a silver hue, with small, elongated dots. If you look cosely at the wing edges, they have a wonderful frayed-silk look to them.

For all its good looks, though, the Holly Blue feeds not just on flowers, but also tree sap, wet soil and even carrion.

From gardens to the edges of woods, the Holly Blue was once a common sight. Now though it is dropping in numbers, due to habitat loss. It is called the Holly Blue because its caterpillars feed on holly leaves, but sadly many tidy gardens now cut back or strip out this plant, along with its other favourite, ivy.

 

WILD CARD: Ants love Holly Blues. They feed on secretions from glands at their hind legs.

 

Holly Blue feeding on wet soil. Photo: Go Be Wild, Barbara Copperthwaite
Holly Blue butterfly, Go Be Wild, Barbara Copperthwaite