Long-tailed Blue

Lampides boeticus

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Male, Switzerland, September 2013



Male, Switzerland, July 2012



Male, Switzerland, September 2013



Male, Switzerland, September 2012

Female, Switzerland, August 2012

Female, Switzerland, August 2012



Female, Switzerland, August 2012

Male, Switzerland, September 2010

Male, Val d'Aran, July 2008

Female, Val d'Aran, 2008

Male, Switzerland, September 2007

Female, Switzerland, September 2007

Female, Switzerland, September 2007

Female, Switzerland, September 2007

Male, Val d'Aran, July 2005

Male, Val d'Aran, July 2005

Female, Val d'Aran, July 2005

Female, Val d'Aran, July 2005

This butterfly is a remarkable migrant for so small an insect, wintering in southern Europe but reaching even to Britain in good summers (though it is always a rarity there). As it spreads northwards it breeds where it can in a succession of short generations, but come winter these will all die.

Both male and female are easily identified by the tail on the hindwing, the white wedge on a rippled underside and the very fast, twisting flight which can be recognised at considerable distance once your eye is in. One can come across the long-tailed blue almost anywhere but in high summer it does tend to hang around various pea species, the males defending territories in grassy meadows nearby while the females spend most of their time on the peas. In Switzerland the hostplant of choice is bladder senna. When males meet - which happens a lot as they seem to hunt each other down - they immediately zoom into the sky, locked in combat until lost from view. One or both of the males then invariably returns to the same patch it was defending before the incident.