Celastrina argiolus

Holly Blue

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: argiolus

Vaud, Switzerland, January 2007

An exceptionally early male.

Photo: argiolus

Vaud, Switzerland, January 2007

An exceptionally early male.

Field notes and information

This butterfly is a familiar sight across much of Europe and north Africa. A butterfly of trees and bushes, woodland and garden alike. In northern Europe, the first blue to fly in the spring.

It is (the only?) European butterfly to show distinct preferences of food plant in some habitats according to the brood - holly (Ilex aquifolium) in the first brood and ivy (Hedera helix) in the second.

There is marked sexual dimophism, the females have very broad black borders on the upperside.

Identification & Similar species: The pale shining grey-blue with small spots on the underside is distinct to this species.

Distribution & Flight: Most of Europe and north Africa, with the exception of the northern UK and northern Scandinavia. Evidence suggests that it is spreading north in the UK, probably linked to climate change.

Flies in two or three broods. One of the first butterflies to emerge in spring it can be found in April/early June, July/August and then, in lower numbers, September/October. Amazingly I found a perfect male on 20th January 2007 in Switzerland following exceptionally warm December and January. I don't think he would have had much chance of finding a mate so far out of season.

Habitat & Behaviour: Diverse, wherever trees and bushes grow. Larvae feed on a very wide range of shrubs. As noted above, in some situations there is a distinct seasonal preference in the selection of food plant.

Often seen flying high around bushes and trees, which is uncommon in almost all other species of blue in Europe. It rarely opens its wings when at rest, being slightly more likely to do so in cooler conditions.

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, May 2011

Photo: argiolus

Vaud, Switzerland, January 2007

An exceptionally early male.

Photo: argiolus

Vaud, Switzerland, July 2012

Female.

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, April 2004

A male taking salts from dung.

Photo: argiolus

Corsica, France, July 2012

Photo: argiolusPhoto: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, April 2012

Photo: argiolus

Vaud, Switzerland, April 2010

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, August 2006

Female, characterised by the extensive black markings on the upperside.

Photo: argiolus

Piedmont, Italy, June 2011

Female.

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, May 2014

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, April 2011

Photo: argiolus

Crete, Greece, April 2014

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, July 2007

Photo: argiolus

Valais, Switzerland, June 2007

Photo: argiolus

Alpes de Haute Provence, France, August 2005