Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Short-tailed Blue:
Short-tailed Blue
Cupido argiades (Pallas, 1771)

Short-tailed Blue egg.
  Short-tailed Blue caterpillar.
  Short-tailed Blue chrysalis
Short-tailed Blue
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Lycaenidae: Subfamily Lycaeninae : Genus Cupido: Species argiades:
The Short-tailed Blue was first seen in Britain on Bloxworth Heath in Dorset and is often referred to as the 'Bloxworth Blue'. The Short-tailed Blue is one of the rarest butterflies to naturally occur in Britain as a migrant from mainland Europe. Many years may go by without a single sighting as the species is not known for its migratory abilities.

Approximately the same size of a Small (Little) Blue, the Short-tailed Blue has a similar underside wing pattern with the additon of a distinctive orange spot and small tail to its hind wings.
The Short-tailed Blue occurs in scrubby grassland clearings heaths and woodland edges where the larval food plant occurs.
Populations of the Short-tailed Blue are present in France, northern Spain and Germany, extending across the continent as far north as the Baltic states. There has been a general shift northwards as global warming continues.

Although this species is at present a very rare occurrence in Britain (it does not have strong migratory habits so its presence in Britain is usually associated with strong southerly winds blowing towards Britain), it is highly likely that with global warming, the species could colonise Britain as its larval food plants are very common here.
Where to see the Short-tailed Blue in the British Isles
Other notes
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Short-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 food plants required by the Short-tailed Blue are very common in the UK and include Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) and Lucerne (Medicago sativa). With global warming, it is possible for this species to naturally colonise and prosper in Britain.
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 Short-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 Short-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*
Short-tailed Blue can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Short-tailed Blue can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Short-tailed Blue
Image ID BB730 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue unknown (imago)
BB730 ©
Image ID BB729 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue unknown (imago)
BB729 ©
Image ID BB728 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue unknown (imago)
BB728 ©
Image ID BB655 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB655 ©
Image ID BB654 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB654 ©
Image ID BB653 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB653 ©
Image ID BB652 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB652 ©
Image ID BB651 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB651 ©
Image ID BB650 - Short-tailed Blue - © Steven Cheshire
Short-tailed Blue male (imago)
BB650 ©
There are 9 photographs of the Short-tailed Blue in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Short-tailed Blue as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.