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Gold 'N' Blue

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Erik van den Ham on October 2, 2009

Common Blue, Icarusblauwtje (Polyommatus icarus)

Appearance, behaviour and distribution

Male uppersides are an iridescent lilac blue with a thin black border. Females are brown with a row of red spots along the edges. They usually have some blue at the base of the wings and, especially in Ireland and Scotland, are mostly blue but always have the red spots. Undersides have a greyish ground colour in the males and more brownish in the females. Both sexes have a row of red spots along the edge of the hindwings (extending onto the forewings though generally fainter, particularly in the males where they are sometimes missing altogether). There are about a dozen black centered white spots on the hind wings, nine on the forwings. The white fringe on the outer edge of the wings is not crossed with black lines as it is in the Chalkhill and Adonis Blues, an important difference when separating these species, particularly the females.

It is Britain's (and probably Europe's) most common and most widespread blue, found as far north as Orkney and on most of the Outer Hebrides. Males are often very obvious as they defend territories against rivals and search out the more reclusive females. A range of grassland habitats are used: meadows, coastal dunes, woodland clearings and also many man made habitats, anywhere where their food plants are found.

It is widespread in Europe, North Africa and temperate Asia.

Recently, Polyommatus icarus was discovered in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada by Ara Sarafian. An amateur entomologist, he had been observing the butterfly from 2005 to 2008. He contacted the Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa where the butterfly was identified as P. icarus, a new alien butterfly to Canada and North America. The butterfly seems to be well established and is extending its range from year to year (Source:

Lifecycle and food plants

The main food plant on most sites is Bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Others used include Black Medick Medicago lupulina, Common Restharrow Ononis repens, White Clover Trifolium repens and Lesser Trefoil Trifolium dubium. Eggs are laid singly on young shoots of their food plants.

The caterpillar is small, pale green with yellow stripes and as usual with lycid larvae rather slug-like. Hibernation occurs as a half grown larvae. They are attractive to ants but not as much as some other species of blues. The chrysalis is olive green/brown and formed on the ground where it is attended by ants which will often take it into their nests. The larvae creates a substance called honey dew, which the ants eat while the butterfly lives in the ant hill. In the south of Britain there are two broods a year flying in May and June and again in August and September. Northern England has one brood flying between June and September. In a long warm year there is sometimes a partial third brood in the south flying into October.

Icarus, Escape from Crete

Icarus' father, Daedalus, a talented and remarkable Athenian craftsman, attempted to escape from his exile in the place of Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur (half man, half bull). Daedalus, the superior craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' daughter, Ariadne, a clew[1] of string in order to help Theseus, the enemy of Minos, survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur.

Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. Before they took off from the island, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea. Overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms. And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos.[2]

Hellenistic writers who gave philosophical knowledge underpinnings to the myth also preferred more realistic variants, in which the escape from Crete was actually by boat, provided by Pasiphaë, for which Daedalus invented the first sails, to outstrip Minos' pursuing galleys, and that Icarus fell overboard on route to Sicily and drowned. Heracles erected a tomb for him.

Dani Isaie on October 2, 2009

Inderdaad een prachtfoto Erik, volledig eens Met Michel. Ook mooi scherp op de juiste plaats. Proficiat.

Groetjes, Dani

Bram van Broekhoven on October 2, 2009

Heel goed gedaan Erik, prachtige opname

bdeh on October 2, 2009

Erg mooie opname Erik. Groeten Berend

Animal Place by John… on October 2, 2009

Zeer mooi plaatje Eric. Groetjes John.

Bert Kaufmann on October 3, 2009

Wàt een kleurenpracht, Erik!

Nadia Kushnir on October 3, 2009


M.Kranenborg-Torn on October 4, 2009

Mooi man... Groetjes van Greetje.

Nico Huising on October 5, 2009

Wat een fantastisch mooi beestje Erik, super vastgelgd.

Groetjes Nico

jac hendrix on October 6, 2009

Gefeliciteerd Erik een droomplaatje.


Erik van den Ham on October 6, 2009

Hallo Michel, Dani, Bram, Berend, John, Bert, Greetje, Nico en Jac. Ja dat zo'n vlindertje gaat zitten op een geel herfstblad is een kans uit duizenden. Blij dat ik hem zo kon vereeuwigen. Soms maar dan ook heel soms Jac komen dromen uit!

Hi Nadia thank you for your kind comment.

Groeten, Greetings, Erik

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on October 2, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Erik van den Ham