Thursday, June 6, 2013

The common blue

Common blue Polyommatus icarus 
The common blue is a small butterfly. In some areas it can be very common. It can be seen from late winter to early autumn but it is most common in early summer.

Males and females are different. The male has blue upper wings with a bluish base. In females the upper wings are brown with a tinge of blue. The underside of males is grey with some blue at the base while in females it is browner. Both sexes have a number of diagnostic spots on their underwing.

The larva of the common blue feeds on several species of leguminous plants especially trefoils and clovers.

It is found in most of Europe, parts of Asia, North Africa and in the Canary Islands. It was recently introduced in eastern Canada.

The common blue is a member of the lycaenid family. In this family we find over 5,000 species. In Malta seven species are found. All are small with either bluish or brownish upper parts. The common blue is the commonest species.

In Maltese it is known as farfett tal-anġlu.

The lycaenid family is the second-largest butterfly family with about forty percent of all butterflies many of which are threatened with extinction. Sometimes these butterflies are known simply as blues.

Another common species is the Lang’s short-tailed blue, known in Maltese as ikħal tad-denb qasir. This species lays its eggs on the plumbago, a beautiful garden plant, and, is often seen resting in its flowers.

The holly blue, known in Maltese as ikħal fiddieni, is common in areas where its food-plants, the ivy and bramble are common. A good place to see this species is at Wied il-Luq in Buskett.

The long-tailed blue (ikħal tad-denb twil) is not common. Most of the time it can be seen flying low above thyme bushes but visits bean plants to lay eggs.

This article was published in The Times on 15 May 2013

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,
    nice post, I don't think I ever came across this butterfly, looks beautiful.