Wednesday 5 May 2010

Holly Blues

The last week of April or the first week of May sees the emergence of the first adult generation of Holly Blues (Celastrina argiolus) from their hibernating chrysalis in our area. Almost invariably, they are fluttering around Holly trees. The Holly is the larval foodplant for the first brood and it is relatively easy to spot females laying their eggs on the tender flower buds of Holly in the spring (above). Males also flutter around holly and sunbathe on it, and adults feed also on the tiny holly flowers. The second brood feeds on Ivy. I have found very little published information on the behaviour of this butterfly despite being a common butterfly in gardens.
This male was feeding on Viburnum tinus this morning

The adults feed on a range of nectar producing plants, I have compiled this list from several sources:
Aubrieta, Choisya, Buddleia, Hebe, Hyssop, Red Valerian, Ragwort, Garlic Mustard, Viburnum tinus, Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Forget-me-nots (Myosotis spp.), Holly (Ilex spp.), Honeydew / Sap, Ivy (Hedera helix), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.) and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica), Hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium).

This is the weekly distribution of my records, clearly showing the presence of two flying generations:

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