I hadn’t seen a single blue butterfly since I took this shot a month ago, but since starting to see photos of fresh Common Blues a few days ago I’ve been keeping an eye out for them, and today in the butterfly meadow my heart lifted when I first spotted a flash of blue. I was stalking several males through an unphotogenic patch of thistly scrub when I suddenly realised to my surprise that there were also a couple of females present – usually the males emerge first, but it seems that they’re all arriving at once this summer.
This female may be fresh, but she definitely wasn’t feeling fruity: you can see that the incoming male is positioning himself for copulation, but she – without even stopping eating – simply lifted her abdomen out of the way to signal that she was unwilling. He took the hint and went off to play chase with the other boys instead, and she calmly carried on scoffing. Her colouring is especially lovely, I think; she’ll lose a lot of those blue scales over time and will then look quite brown, but with a blue iridescence if the light catches her.
This summer brood will continue to emerge through into August, and will mate and oviposit through to the latter half of September. The larvae that survive predation will hibernate through the winter in leaf litter around the base of their food plants, and those that survive that will pupate next spring to emerge as the year’s first brood around May.
If you’re interested, I’ve put a few of today’s photos on Facebook to show the difference in colouring between the males and females.