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UK Large Blue (14)
accassidy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 162 W: 119 N: 596] (2454)
Maculinea arion Large Blue

This is by no means the best picture I have posted, but it is the first time of submission for a British Large Blue and it shows one of very few opportunities that the species allowed me today on a 3-hour visit to the only public open site for this species in the UK.

Quite a good number of these blues was on the wing, with maybe 20 sightings during my stay. But the butterflies were seldom settling for any length of time, even in the cooler weather at 9a.m.

Below I have included some information from the UK Butterflies web site. Armed with this information, and with a few more days still left in the current season, perhaps one of my compatriots can get out and do something better.

"This butterfly was first recorded as a British species in 1795 and, even then, was considered a rare insect. Due to the loss of suitable habitat, the endemic subspecies of Large Blue became extinct in the British Isles in 1979, the last site being on Dartmoor in Devon.

This magnificent insect has since been “brought back from the dead” through the dedication of several conservation organisations and many individuals. After its extinction in the British Isles in 1979, the Large Blue became the subject of a highly-organised reintroduction programme, using stock from Sweden. The estimated number of adults flying in 2006 was 10,000 on 11 sites, which is the largest number seen in the British Isles for over 60 years. This is a magnificent example of conservation in action.

The successful reintroduction of the Large Blue is made even more remarkable when one considers its elaborate lifecycle. The larva is parasitic in that it feeds on the grubs of a red ant, Myrmica sabuleti, on whom its existence depends. Although the dependence on ants had been known for many years, the dependence on a single species of ant, in order to maintain a viable population, was unknown to conservationists for many years until Jeremy Thomas discovered the association in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the discovery came too late to save the native population. Today's reintroduction efforts focus as much on the population of ants present, as they do on the Large Blue itself.

Anyone wanting to see this species in the British Isles should visit the open access site at Collard Hill in Somerset. A “Large Blue Hotline” is usually set up each year that provides an up-to-date status of the emergence at this site. Details are available on the Butterfly Conservation website. In addition, Butterfly Conservation members and Somerset Wildlife Trust members have the opportunity to visit a private site, Green Down, each year, although places are limited."

I have posted a workshop showing the underside.

Thanks for looking.
Alan.

Altered Image #1

accassidy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 162 W: 119 N: 596] (2454)
Underside
Edited by:accassidy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 162 W: 119 N: 596] (2454)

This image shows the underside of Maculinea arion