Cupido minimus

Small Blue


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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Valais, Switzerland, May 2022

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2018

Field notes and information

This is one of Europe's smallest butterflies, but its size is very variable. Small ones measure little over 10mm in wingspan. It is widespread and often common. In certain conditions in mountains they can be found in huge groups taking salts on hot days.

Identification & Similar species: Both sexes are rather dull brown on the upperside, the male has some blue basal scales. They are very similar to several other species. Males can usually be distinguished as follows, but females are so similar that identification is not possible in most cases.

Male osiris and Lorquin's blues, C. osiris & C. lorquinii, have bright blue uppersides. The former is found more or less commonly in parts of southern Europe and the latter does not overlap in range being found in south Spain and north Africa.

Carswell's small blue, C. carswelli, males are extremely similar. It is now usually considered a subspecies the current species. It is only found in southeast Spain where C. minimusdoes not fly.

The short tailed blues Everes have tails and blue males, but sometimes the tail is absent. However there is always a small kink in the black marginal line where the tail would be expected, in the small blues Cupido this is a smooth curve.

Distribution & Flight: Widespread, it flies from northern Spain to Greece to Scandinavia. It is sporadic in the northern part of its range. One (June/ July) or two broods (April/ May and July or later) depending on location.

Habitat & Behaviour: The larvae feed on the seeds of kidney vetch and the adults can usually be found where this plant grows.

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2008

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Valais, Switzerland, May 2022

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Valais, Switzerland, May 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, April 2021

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Vaud, Switzerland, July 2020

At 3000m altitude on a glacier, this butterfly has succumbed to the cold. A humming bird hawk moth had suffered a the same fate just a few meters away.

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Vaud, Switzerland, June 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, April 2017

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Valais, Switzerland July 2014

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2019

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2015

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Valais, Switzeland, June 2013

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Hohe Tauern, Austria July 2014

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Genève, Switzerland, June 2013