Polyommatus icarus

Common Blue

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: icarus

Asturias Mts, Spain, July 2011

A very blue female.

Photo: icarus

Vaud, Switzerland, May 2013

A typical brown female with traces of blue basally.

Field notes and information

One of Europe's most widespread butterflies. It is common in many divers habitats flying in multiple generations thoughout the warmer months, typically from March or April to October or November in southern Europe.

Identification & Similar species: It is such a common generalist species it nearly always has to be considered when identifying blues. Males have a uniform violet-blue upper side with narrow black borders, lacking andriconal scaling. The fringes are uniform white (lack checkering). The underside has numerous spots, including a cell spot on the forewing although this is absent in a small but significant percentage of individuals.

The chapman's blue P. thersites is a very similar species. It always lacks the underside forewing cell spot and the basal area of the upperside forewing is rough with andriconal scales.

Recently P. celina has been separated from the common blue, P. icarus. It has marginal spots on the upperside of both wings, but I don't know how reliable this.

Distribution & Flight: Throughout Europe, being replaced by P. celina in the Canaries and north Africa and possibly southern Spain and some islands of the western Mediterranean. It flies in all warm months of the year.

Habitat & Behaviour: Habitats are diverse on all soil types, warm and cool, open or wooded and at all altitudes up to high alpine meadows. They are typically flowery or grassy.

Variation: With such a wide distribution, range of habitats and number of generations in the year, it is not surprisingly very variable. The underside varies greatly, hampering identification in some cases. The females are extremely variable on the upperside too, with the extent of blue and brown varying from nearly 0% to 100% and often with submarginal orange-white spots sometimes very bold and extensive.

In very hot dry places in the summer, tiny individuals are often encountered.

Photo: icarus

Corisca, France, July 2012

Male without andirconal scale on the basal half of the forewing compared to the Chapman's blue Agrodiaetus thersites.

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Gennargentu, Sardinia, Italy, July 2015

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Gennargentu, Sardinia, Italy, July 2015

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Sierra Nevada, Spain, July 2013

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Vaud, Switzerland, September 2013

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Soria, Spain, July 2011

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2015

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Valais, Switzerland, May 2012

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Corisca, France, July 2012

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N Sweden, July 2010

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2010

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Pletvar Massif, FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), July 2004

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Grenada, Spain, July 2013

Photo: icarus

Valais, Switzerland, May 2014