Large Blue Butterflies
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Scientific name: Maculinea arion
Size: Wingspan up to 52mm
Distribution: Limited to a few sites in Somerset (most notably Collard Hill), Gloucestershire, Devon and Cornwall
Months seen: May to July
Life span: Adult butterflies live for just five days
Habitat: South facing, closely grazed grassland with ant nests
Food: Nectar and honeydew. The larvae feed on Wild Thyme and Marjoram
Special features: Large Blue Butterflies have bright blue wings with a broad black border on the upper surfaces with some oval black spots. The undersides of the wings are a silvery-blue colour with white spots which have black centres.
Large Blue butterflies were once a frequent sight across much of southern England but they became extinct in 1979. Since then conservationists have reintroduced Large Blues from Sweden and have established colonies in Somerset, Gloucestershire Devon and Cornwall.
The Large Blue lays its eggs on Wild Thyme and Marjoram where the caterpillars feed on the flowers. The caterpillars then leave the plant and are taken into the nest of the red ant (Myrmica sabuleti). Inside the nest they feed on ant grubs until they pupate.