Male, Málaga, March 2011. Note the extremely hairy legs!
Female, Málaga, March 2011
Female, Málaga, March 2011. The orange of the upperside is
visible through the broken hindwing here.
Ronda, March 2011
Provence hairstreak habitat near Málaga.
Gibraltar, April 1983
This lovely little butterfly, resembling a cross between a small copper
and a green hairstreak, is widespread and sometimes common in Spain and
Portugal but much more local in the South of France. In Andalucía it
flies as early as February, though March and April are the main flight
months. In Spain I have found it in rough grassy patches in the hills,
where medicks grow. It spends a lot of time just sitting around low on
leaves or grasses and is often quite inconspicuous until you put one
up. Alerted to the presence of the species, you will then find many
There is little chance of mistaking this species for anything else. The
underside hindwing, which it always shows at rest (it never sits with
wings spread), is predominantly green or blue-green with white flecks
and a more or less broad, grey-brown border. The underside of the
forewing is bright orange with dark spots trimmed with white, suffused
with varying amounts of grey-brown in the male.
The Provence hairstreak is single-brooded, flying only in the
spring. Eggs are laid singly on undeveloped leaves of the foodplant (Medicago sp.).
Like those of many Lycaenids, the caterpillars have a close association
with ants and have glands and adapted morphology to reflect this.
Tolman speculates that in nature pupation takes place in ants' nests,
from the fact that captive larvae often wander aimlessly before dying
without pupating. Muñoz Sariot states that they pupate on the ground,
at the base of plants. It is certainly likely they are afforded
protection by ants. They spend the rest of the year in this state,
hibernating as pupae, before emerging as adults as soon as conditions
are suitable in the spring.