• Barbara Copperthwaite

The air was Blue

Gotcha! I once again spotted the small butterfly that looked lilac when the sun shone through its wings. This time it came to rest not too far from me, and I saw that actually its wings were a wonderful blue. I got several photos of it, sadly with its wings together, but it gave me a chance to study them more closely, helping me to identify it not as an Adonis Blue, as I had initially thought the other day when I briefly saw it (note to self: must wear my glasses when out and about) but as a Holly Blue.

For about twenty minutes I stalked from a distance this beautiful butterfly (it’s a good job they can’t get anti-harassment injunctions!) then…finally…it landed on a nettle and held its wings slightly open enough for me to snap it. I could have whooped with joy! I hope you agree the final picture as worth the wait, I certainly think it was.

This stunning butterfly is the commonest blue found in parks and grasslands - yet many people don't notice it because it is small (around 2.5cm). Look out for it now - the Holly Blue emerges well before Britain's other blue butterflies in spring. Its bright green larvae (which have a black head) feed on holly, which it where it gets its name from. In most of the UK there are two generations per year, with the first adults flying from late March to late June and the second in late July to September. The further north you get though, the more likely there is to be just one generation per year. Populations levels have declined over the past fifty years WILD CARD: A small wasp causes high mortality rates in Holly Blues. It lays an egg in the Holly Blue larvae. When the butterfly's larva pupates, the wasp egg hatches inside the chrysalis and the wasp larva eats the contents.

#hollyblue #butterfly #photo #highburypark #birmingham

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