MAIN MENU (leading to individual articles):
AMPHIBIANS   |   BIRDS  |  BUTTERFLIIES  |  MOTHS  | DRAGONFLIES  |  OTHER INSECTS
MAMMALS   |  PLANTS  |  ORCHIDS   |  LICHENS  |  FUNGI
 |  WHAT TO SEE MONTH BY MONTH  
FURNESS  |  BIRKRIGG COMMON  |  CONTACT DETAILS  |  HOME



THE HOLLY BLUE
IN CUMBRIA

The Holly Blue is essentially a southern species in Cumbria but there is no real reason why it should not turn up further north in the county. Indeed, in recent years it has been increasingly reported from the Carlisle area. It is a species which seems to be found most easily at old established sites, such as churchyards, gardens with mature trees and old woods.

It is the first blue butterfly to be on the wing in the spring, from early April, but only for three weeks or so. At this time it is most likely to be found around Holly trees.

The second brood puts in an appearance about the second week of August but is more likely to be found around Ivy at this time of the year. The adults don't seem to be about for more than a couple of weeks at this time of year.

Good weather in September is needed, as the egg must hatch and the larvae develop fully in a month or so, to spend the winter in the chrysalis stage.

Both sexes have a light blue underside, speckled with black. Females are delightful, with a lovely intense lilac-blue when fresh with contrasting black wing tips - the black is usually more extensive in the second brood (see right).

Numbers of Holly Blues fluctuate from year to year, being higher the year following a good summer, but can be reduced by attacks on their caterpillars of a small parasitic wasp, which has no other host than the Holly Blue.