Posted 11th May 2018
Did you know the rarest blue butterfly in the UK is the Adonis blue?
Found on sunny, south-facing grassland which are rich in herbs, the butterfly has suffered a severe decline in populations due to ploughing and a lack of grazing.
As it doesn't move far, the colonies can become isolated and vulnerable, meaning they are prone to extinction should their habitat be disturbed. A main food source for both the caterpillars and adults will be the horseshoe vetch.
The species has two broods each year, and as such, adults can be seen from mid-May until the end of June, and then from early August until the end of September.
Intriguingly, ants (in particular, the red ant and small black ant) tend the larvae and chrysalis in their nests, providing them with protection from predation.
When it comes to identifying them, the males are a vivid, sky-blue or turquoise colour. The fine black lines on the wings extend into the white fringe, with the females typically brown (although this can vary and some will be predominantly blue).
Found in chalk grassland in central southern England, the adult butterflies prefer chalk downland habitats - this includes patchworks of grassland, heath, scrub and ponds, which are found on chalk hills. Chalk grasslands provides a home to such a diverse habitat of species that they have actually been likened to a rainforest. However, they are being lost at a shocking rate due to changes in land use, which subsequently causes a decline of grazing. It's been estimated that 80 per cent of chalk grassland has been lost over the last 60 years.
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of Sophie Lenham / BBOWT