Provence Chalkhill Blue

Polyommatus (Lysandra) hispanus


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Polyommatus hispanus

Male, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Male, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Male, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Female, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Female, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Female, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Male, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Male, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Female, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Mating pair, France, August 2008

Polyommatus hispanus

Distribution

All these photos except the last were taken at a single site in France on an overcast day in 2008. I had not mastered taking pictures in low light conditions and they are very poor - I felt at the time they exaggerated the blueness, as well as being somewhat blurred. The last picture, equally poor for different reasons (!) was taken at a site not far away a couple of days later. These remain the only Provence chalkhill blues I have seen. It is not so much that it is a rare butterfly - it is not, within its range - but rather that I visit its haunts at the wrong times. Unlike the chalkhill blue, this is a double-brooded butterfly, flying in May and June and then again from August into late autumn. I tend to go south in March/April and July. The identity of the butterflies shown here is vouched for by Tim Cowles, who showed me the colonies and had been monitoring them throughout the previous seasons.

The males are blue-grey - appearing off-white in flight (rather like Spanish chalkhill blues from northern Spain). The forewing ground colour is more extensive than in typical chalkhill blues, reaching close to the apex. There may be double dark margins, with pale between, but very rarely the single, broad marginal band so often seen in chalkhill blues. Females are more similar to chalkhill blues but generally darker.

The foodplant is horseshoe vetch, as it is for chalkhill blues, though it is believed some other Fabaceae may also be used. It is said to hibernate as an egg.