Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Long-tailed Blue:
Long-tailed Blue
Lampides boeticus (Linnaeus, 1767)

Long-tailed Blue egg.
  Long-tailed Blue caterpillar.
  Long-tailed Blue chrysalis
Long-tailed Blue
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Lycaenidae: Subfamily Lycaeninae : Genus Lampides: Species boeticus:
The Long-tailed Blue rarely occurs in the UK although it is thought it may have bred here in the past. However the species seems unable to survive our cold damp winters. It is easily separated from our native butterflies by the distinctive tail on the trailing edge of each hindwing and the white and pale brown stripes of the underside of the wings.
Hot flowery places where the larval fooplant occurs.

Sadly this species arrives in Britian on vary rare occasions however it does have a widespread global distribution. It is a highly migratory species and occurs in Africa, southern Asia, Australia and southern European countries.

Many of the recent records in the UK are as a result of being imported in packs of mange-tout peas from supermarkets.

Where to see the Long-tailed Blue in the British Isles
Other notes

13-10-11 - Two Long-tailed Blues at St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly - at same location as that reported on 12-10-2011.
12-10-11 - Long-tailed Blue photographed egg-laying on gorse at St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly.
11-10-11 - Long-tailed Blue (female) seen by Peter Kitchener nectaring on bramble near Lowestoft, Suffolk (TM549955).
28-09-11 - Long-tailed Blue seen at Ladymead, Easton on Isle of Portland, Dorset.

05-09-09 - Long-tailed Blue on sweet pea at Felixtowe.

11-05-08 - Long-tailed Blue discovered by Faith & Christian Wilson in domestic compost bin at Glenealy, Wicklow (Probably imported from Kenya with mange-yout peas).

14-10-07 - Long-tailed Blue reported to me by Andy Gibson inside a house at Highcliffe Dorset (grid ref SZ 208 945). Sadly it was not photographed.
18-09-07 - Long-tailed Blue seen in Coggeshall Essex by Brian Corben. This is thought to be a genuine immigrant.
00-00-07 - 2x Long-tailed Blue larvae found in a pack of peas purchased from a CO-OP in Suffolk. These pupated and emerged as adult butterflies which the finder (Phil Evans) killed rather than releasing into the wild. Country of origin unknown.

09-10-06 - Long-tailed Blue at the end of Peninnis track, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly.
28-08-06 - Long-tailed Blue seen in Ayrmer Cove near Bigbury, Devon on NT footpath (Grid Ref: SX 643 455)by Peter, Helen & Christopher Phillips.
25-08-06 - Long-tailed Blue (female) seen at Dawlish Warren, Devon (Grid Ref: SX 982 788) by Ivan Lakin & Kevin Rylands.
18-07-06 - Long-tailed Blue seen by Keith Knights at Bradwell, near Gt Yarmouth (in open ended poly tunnel at an aquatic plant nursery).

??-??-06 - Long-tailed Blue seen near Lowestoft. Further details unavailable.

??-08-90 - A small colony of the long-tailed blue butterfly was found on railway land at Gillespie Park Nature Reserve in Islington (Bevan, 1991). The females were found to be ovipositing onto the flowers of bladder senna (Colutea arborescens). Some of the resulting larvae were successfully bred in captivity. The colony failed to survive the following winter.

09?-05-88 - 2 Long-tailed Blue found inside a laboratory at Newforge Lane, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland (Probably imported with mange-yout peas).

Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Long-tailed Blue in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
--awaiting data-- --awaiting data--

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Not Applicable Not Applicable

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
UK status
Rare Migrant
Larval foodplants
The larval foodplants include cultivated legumes such as Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea (Lathyrus latifolius) Narrow-leaved Everlasting-pea (Lathyrus sylvestris) and also Broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Lucerne (Medicago sativa). Larvae can also be found on imported mange-tout peas (Pisum sativum) from supermarkets. There are many more larval foodplants used depending upon its location.
Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
Online store
Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 not applicable
UK Population trend 1976-2004 not applicable

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status not applicable (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map

Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Long-tailed Blue except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Long-tailed Blue on the NBN Gateway web site.
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For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Long-tailed Blue can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Long-tailed Blue can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Long-tailed Blue
Image ID BB759 - Long-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Long-tailed Blue female (imago)
BB759 ©
Image ID BB758 - Long-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Long-tailed Blue female (imago)
BB758 ©
Image ID BB757 - Long-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Long-tailed Blue female (imago)
BB757 ©
Image ID BB756 - Long-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Long-tailed Blue female (imago)
BB756 ©
Image ID BB755 - Long-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Long-tailed Blue female (imago)
BB755 ©
There are 5 photographs of the Long-tailed Blue in our stock photo library.