Unexpected Visitor

I have been eagerly awaiting June and July when more of my garden flowers will be in bloom and I expect more butterflies (assuming that the weather is better than last Summer!).  Last week I had a pleasant surprise when I saw a blue butterfly in my garden fluttering around and rarely stopping (hence the poor quality photograph).  This was particularly surprising as I associate blue butterflies with chalk areas, not with the claggy clay of Northamptonshire.

  Holly Blue Butterfly 1                                Holly Blue Butterfly 2 

I looked the butterfly up in my insect book and discovered that identification was easier than I had expected owing to the fact that both the top and the underside of its wings were blue (most have brown undersides).  This, and the fact that it was spending most of its time flitting about the holly bushes (doh!) led to the conclusion that it was a Holly Blue (celastrina argiolus).  These are more common than I realised (having never seen one before.  As the name suggests they lay their eggs mainly on holly bushes (we now have 5 of these so this could explain its sudden appearance) where the caterpillars feed on the flowers of the aforementioned shrubs.  In Summer when hollies are not in flower or when there is a dearth of holly they will make do with other shrubs such as dogwood (grows well on clay), gorse and bramble (not good as I have recently planted a blackberry in my fruit corner of the garden).

I think I will trade a few holly flowers and berries for a few blue butterflies to lighten up the Spring days, I just have to be ready to get a better photograph next time!

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