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Saturday, 7 September 2013

More Butterflies from Dorset/The Adonis Blue

If you want to see certain species of birds or butterflies,you have to be in the right place at the right time.I knew that it was the time of year when the second brood of the Adonis Blue would be on the wing.Researching the internet I came across the Dorset butterfly society who advertised a guided walk on one of the chalk hill downs.Target species was of course the Adonis Blue,a butterfly that loves the warmth,prefering a sheltered position on South facing downs.It prefers turf that is tightly cropped,possibly because of theant species that attend the Adonis Blue larva and pupa.

There are 2 broods of butterfly,the first adults emergence is in the second half of May,peaking at hte end of May and beginning of June,which coincidently is when the food plant Horse shoe vetch is in full bloom,whilst the second brood is in the second half of August peaking at the end of Aug/beginning of Sept.Again this coincides with large swathes of wild marjoram being present!

This male, if you look closely,is carrying a couple of mites that its picked up.

The morning of the walk turned out to be very dull,not really what we wanted,but the bonus was the butterflies would be at rest in the vegitation and approachable.There were males and females hidden in the grass,but as we carefully negotiated our way through the males would slowly rise fly for 5 or 6 metres then re settle,giving fantastic views.We estimated that there were at least a few hundred specimens present on the hillside.

I found these two mating and wern`t in the least bit concerned of our prescence!The sexes are strongly dimorphic with the females being a chocolate brown and the males of course being this magnificent blue.They are the quintessential butterfly along with the Chalkhill Blue,of the southern downs.It is also very localised and hardly disperse from their breeding grounds.They are really bouncing back in numbers now as colonies recover from a serious decline.

Also seen on the down were good numbers of Brown Argus.This lovely specimen had recently emerged and was showing its rich chocolate and orange upperwings.this butterfly is also classed as a member of the blue familly.It was known in the past as the `brown blue`.Whereas the chalkhill and adonis dont venture very far,the brown argus will disperse large distances and is presently colonising areas further north and west.

Wild Marjoram grows profusely on the thinly soiled downs,it was everywhere and the aroma it threw up as we wandered through it was sublime.Without it the Adonis blues just wouldn`t survive!

Typical south facing downs.Steeply sided,short cropped,ideal conditions for butterflies and not forgetting ants,to survive.So it was a fantastic couple of hours with the Dorset branch of butterfly conservation,they really did make you feel welcome and were a mine of information,not only on butterflies but plants,moths and even insects that were about.You will learn more from a guided walk than any books or videos,because you are actually there were it all happens,and of course you can ask as many questions as you like.It was a pleasure to be in their company and I can only advise that if the opportunity comes along,then grab it with both hands.Bye for now then and hope you enjoyed this latest blog!!!!!


  1. Paul. Good to see you are really into the butterflies !! You certainly made the best of your trip to Dorset and have come back with images of some of the "classic" downland species. Well done mate and let's hope Friday 13th is lucky for us.

  2. Hi Paul. As a committee member of the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, I'd like to thank you for your kind comments: we're glad you enjoyed the walk, and hope we'll see you again in 2013.