Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 20–27 mm; the fringes not banded. Medium built; medium-bodied. The eyes white-rimmed; notched or emarginate at the bases of the antennae and contiguous with the bases of the antennal sockets; glabrous. Antennae white-ringed, reaching about halfway to the wingtips. The antennal clubs fairly abrupt (and blunt). Labial palps ascending. Having all 6 legs fully developed and operational for walking. Fore-legs without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt to pointed. The outer and hind margins angled at about 100–110 degrees. The outer margins sliightly convexly curved to more or less straight. Uppersides of the forewings purple-tinged dark fuscous, or blue and fuscous; with a conspicuous discal mark (this small, dark), or without a discal mark; commonly with a basal sprinkling of blue scales which may extend over the disc.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins not scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings purple-tinged dark fuscous, or blue and fuscous; without a discal mark; dark fuscous, often with a basal sprinkling of blue scales which may extend into the disc.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the wings multiply patterned with pale-ringed black spots.

Undersides of the forewings ochreous-grey-whitish, basally bluish tinged and black-sprinkled, with two anterior and a postmedian series of white-ringed black spots.

Undersides of the hindwings ochreous-grey-whitish, basally bluish tinged and black-sprinkled; with a white-ringed black discal mark and two anterior spots, but lacking the postmedian series of the forewings; with neither orange spots nor an orange band; with a conspicuous discal mark; without orange markings.

Wing venation. Forewings 11 veined. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only; vein 1b simple. Forewings with a discal cell (the transverse vein very faint); vein 2 departing from the hind margin of the cell in its distal quarter to departing from the cell less than three-quarters of the distance from its base (from at least 2/3 out). Forewing vein 5 absent proximally to the very weak transverse vein, 6 separate, 7 and 8 long-stalked with 8 very short to the costa, 9–11 separate from the cell.

Hindwings 9 veined; without a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. Hindwings with a closed discal cell; the transverse vein vestigial only. The cell-derived hindwing veins 3+4 proximally joined (connate), or 3+4 proximally joined and 6+7 proximally joined (connate). Hindwing veins 2, 3 and 4 from one stalk, 5 absent proximally to the faint transverse vein and weak beyond it, 8 separate and sharply curved along the costa.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs discoid (with a small apical depression); densely spinulose. The larvae woodlouse-shaped; having no known association with ants (the honey gland reduced); hairy. On flowers and seeds of Anthyllis, and cannibalistic.

Pupae smooth and rounded; conspicuously patterned; exposed, with no coccoon to concealed (in litter on the ground).

British representation. 1 species. Cupido minimus (Little Blue). The adults abroad May and June.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

Distribution. Northern Scotland, southern Scotland, northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, and Isle of Wight. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea. Lycaenidae.

Illustrations. • Cupido minimus (Small or Little Blue: photos. • Larva and pupa of Cupido minimus: Duponchel (1849). • Cupido minimus (Small or Little Blue): egg, larva, pupa.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies. Version: 16th May 2016.’.