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Lorquin's Blue Butterfly - Cupido lorquinii

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Lycaenidae

Lorquin's Blue butterfly, wings closed

Lorquin's Blue is essentially a butterfly of northern Africa, but its range extends across to the Algarve region of Portugal and into southern Spain. You can expect see these pretty little insects in the Algarve in May..

Like other 'blues' the male has blue upperwings but the female is always mainly brown with a small and very variable amount of blue.

Male Lorquin's Blue butterfly

Broad blackish borders around the blue (for males) or brown (females) centres of the upperwings help to distinguish Lorquin's Blue from other small blue butterflies.

Lorquin's Blue butterfly, female, wings open

With females slightly larger than males, the wingspan of this uncommon to rare butterfly varies between 2.2cm and 2.8cm.

The Lorquin's Blue butterflies shown here were photographed in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. (Pictures: Rob Petley-Jones)

Distribution

Not known to occur in Britain (apart from a single uncorroborated report), Lorquin's Blue is reported in Europe only from southern Spain and southern Portugal. In northern Africa this butterfly is reported from several countries including Algeria and Morocco..

Lifecycle

The larval foodplants used by Lorquin's Blue are various members of the pea family, Fabaceae, but primarily Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), of which they eat only the flowers and the seedheads.

A single brood is produced, with the adults flying between March and June, depending mainly on altitude. (These butterflies occur at altitudes of 2000m in the High Atlas Mountains as well as quite near to sea level.)

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