Two butterflies on a seedhead, one showing blue upperwings and the other the patterned underwing

Common Blues. Photo: Mark Pike.

Our most common blue butterfly.

Where to see

Habitat: Anywhere its caterpillar's food plant can be found: Downs, heaths, wasteland, old quarries, dunes, cliffs and any any rough unfertilised grassland that is fairly short.

Caterpillar foodplants: Birds-foot refoil, Black Medick, Restharrows and (in boggy areas) Marsh Bird's-foot Trefoil.

Best places: Cashmoor, Clubmens Down, Fontmell Down, Sovell Down, Ballard Down, Durlston Country Park, Townsend Quarry, Cerne Abbas, Portland Broadcroft, Portland Tout, Badbury Rings, Hod Hill.

Reported from the following locations last year*:

When to see

The Common Blue has two broods, one peaking in June and the other in August to early September.

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:


Notes

Size: small.

As with most blues, though the male is blue, the female is brown. It is a small butterfly compared to the Orange Tip, but middling size for a blue. It tends to fly low down.

The male is a lovely shade of plain blue, with a thin black band round the edge and an unbroken white fringe. There are often black marks round the wing edges but they don’t cross the white fringes. Unfortunately with age the white fringes tend to get worn away.

It is most easily confused with the Holly Blue, though a glimpse of the underwing shows these are very different – highly patterned with orange and black markings in the case of the Common Blue, and plain pale blue with small black marks for the Holly Blue.

You might also wonder if it is an Adonis Blue; the shades of blue tend to be different, with the Adonis being much more turquoise, but the best way to tell is to look at whether the black veins go through the white fringes: they do on the Adonis, but not the Common Blue.

The female is much less eye-catching and tends to stay hidden away a lot of the time. The ratio of brown to blue can be quite variable. Compared to the female Brown Argus, the female Common Blue has more blue scales on the surfaces of the upperside wings, and the orange dots on the upperside hind wings have black dots edged with white, while the Brown Argus has almost pure chocolate brown upper wings and the orange dots on the upper hindwings are edged by black dots.

Photo gallery

Click thumbnails to view larger images.

*Please 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.