A brown and a blue butterfly, both with open wings, on a pink flower Active

Adonis Blue female (top) and male. Photo: Ken Dolbear

Dorset is a very important county for the Adonis Blue butterfly, being home to more colonies than any other county. It has increased in range in Dorset since a low in the 1980s.

Where to see

Habitat: The Adonis needs warmth, so it chooses the hottest parts of unimproved chalk or limestone grasslands where there is plenty of its food plant. Steep south-facing slopes are often suitable, especially if the grass is short or sparse, allowing the sun to bake the ground. More overgrown sites have smaller numbers of these butterflies.

Caterpillar foodplants: Horseshoe Vetch

Best places: Ballard Down, Bindon Hill, Clubmens Down, Durlston Country Park, Fontmell Down.

Distribution map

Explore the Atlas to see historical distribution trends for this species.

When to see

This is a double-brooded butterfly, with the first brood appearing in May/June and the second in August/September.

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:

Browse the sightings archive.


Size: Small

The Adonis is one of the blue butterflies which is known to have a strong relationship with ants. This starts in the butterfly’s caterpillar stage, when it can exude honeydew, which the ants find attractive. In return the ants tend the caterpillar and then the chrysalis: a period which extends from March right through to October.

The upper wings of the male Adonis Blue are a very vivid shade of blue, more turquoise than the other blues. The female is brown with a variable dusting of blue scales coming out from the body (some are almost pure brown, some are quite blue) and orange marks around the wing edges.

For both male and female, the most distinctive feature is that there are black lines going through the white fringe. The Chalkhill Blue has lines going through its fringe, but they are brown.

Female Adonis and Chalkhill can be difficult to tell apart, though on close inspection of the upperwings, it may be possible to see that the pupil between the eyespot and the wing edge is blue on the Adonis, but white on the Chalkhill.

Photo gallery

Tip: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.

*Note: The charts shown on this page are drawn only from casual sightings submitted to this website. Records from this website will be added to a lot more data collected throughout the year and used to compile the five-yearly Butterfly Atlases for Dorset and the UK.

Find more Adonis Blue related content, including news and photos.