Name: the silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) is a small, strikingly coloured butterfly found across Europe and Asia.
Appearance: males have blue wings with a black border and metallic silver spots. Females are a more subdued brown colour. The undersides of both males’ and females’ wings are decorated with black and orange spots.
Size: they are small butterflies with a wingspan of 2 to 3 cm.
Diet: as caterpillars they feed on a variety of plants such as rock rose, sunrose, rushrose, and frostweed. As adults, they tend to feed on heather and bell heather.
Did you know: silver-studded blues have a unique relationship with ants and lay their eggs near to the nests of black ants. Once the eggs hatch, the ants protect the larvae, fending off the attacks of wasps and spiders as well as parasites. In return, the ants harvest a sugary secretion from glands on the larvae’s back. Once fully grown, the butterflies leave the ants’ nest in June or July to find a mate.
Location: silver-studded blues are found in heathlands, mosslands, and limestone grasslands across Europe and Asia. They have been extensively studied in the UK after they experienced a severe decline in population due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Where to see Silver-studded blues
According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see silver-studded blues in the following places:
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Photo credit: Erik_Karits under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay