The Common Blue butterfly

The common blue butterfly
The common blue butterfly

Strangely, in such a great year for butterflies, I have not noticed the Common Blue faring any better than usual.

So it was great to see this pair planning for the future as late as early September.

As you can see, this is one of the few butterfly species where the male and female are totally different. Here the male (left) is the bonny sky blue one. Females are a dark blue tinted brown, though the amount of blue can be variable from area to area.

If your ramblings take you through rough grassland areas you are probably very familiar with the flighty blue males searching for females and chasing off rivals.

Female Common Blues skulk around the grass roots avoiding over amorous males and seeking out good egg laying sites.

For this reason, despite the obvious beauty of the glistening males, I am always chuffed to get a good close view of a demure female.

It can be easy to forget about them in winter.

Would you believe, when snow blows over our frosted winter grasslands, the Common Blue is not snug inside some deep buried chrysalis, it is in fact still a caterpillar!

Butterfly species have four ways of getting through winter. Some hibernate as adults.Others do so in a protective chrysalis. A few even wait out the cold months as tiny hard eggs.

Tough characters like the Common Blue remain in the caterpillar stage throughout.I often wonder if their bodies contain some sort of anti-freeze!

Winter may be particularly savage and followed by a long cold spring. In early summer, the countryman can find himself wondering if any Common Blues made it through at all?

Suddenly a sunlit flash and flicker of that bluest of blues answers the question!