Holly Blue butterfly

Celastrina argiolus

family - Lycaenidae (Blues)

Image of Holly Blue butterfly

The Holly Blue butterfly has black spots on a blue background on the underside of the wings - no orange marks. The upperside of the wings are blue. The female has a broad black border on the upperside of the forewing tip.

My personal observations of the Holly Blue butterfly

months seen in my garden: mainly May but also April, June, July & August

garden plants that attract this species: Aubrieta, Choisya, Forget-me-not, Hebe, Hyssop, Red Valerian

Butterfly sightings 2005:

First photograph of a Holly Blue on Forget-me-not, 29 April 2005
The next 2 photos were taken on 1 May 2005:

Holly Blue on Garlic Mustard, 15 May
Holly Blue seen in garden 28 July (summer brood)
Holly Blue on Hebe, 30 July
Holly Blue on Hyssop, 30 July
Holly Blue on Ragwort in Overley Woods, 31 July
Holly Blue feeding on Hebe Josephine, 16 August

Butterfly sightings 2004:

11 May 2004, Female Holly Blue:

thumbnail link to Holly Blue image view of top of wings

thumbnail link to Holly Blue image view of underside of wings

thumbnail link to Holly Blue image egg-laying on Holly bush

7 May 2004, Holly Blue seen near Aubrieta

Images from past years:

thumbnail link Female on Choisya. 21 May 2002. Female Holly Blues have a broad dark edge at the wingtip on the upper side.

thumbnail link On Choisya. 21 May 2002.

thumbnail link August 1998.

thumbnail link 23 July 2002.

thumbnail link 29 July 2001.

The Holly Blue butterfly, like the Small Blue, does not have orange markings on the underside of the wings. The underside of the Holly Blue's wings have black markings; in the Small Blue butterfly these are edged with white rings.


2001 was a good year for Holly Blue butterflies here in Cirencester. I found 3 resting on the Pyracantha hedge one day; normally I only see one rarely. I have no images for 2003 but in the Spring of 2004, I saw them often.

I have received an email which might suggest that Holly Blue butterflies may use Choisya ternata as an autumnal larval foodplant. Watch your Mexican Orange Blossoms...

Reference Section

Size: 35mm (smaller than Small White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: April-May
Second Generation flight period: August

Larval Food Plants: Spring - Holly;Autumn - Ivy
Wild Nectar Plants: Ragwort

Numbers increase/decrease on roughly a 5 year cycle related to decrease/increase in numbers of parasitic wasp.

Family Group: Lycaenidae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 9 December, 2005