Alpine Blue (Plebejus orbitulus)

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2019 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

8321_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07 27363_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11 31182_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12
46759_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19 8402_female_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07 13379_female_Valais, Switzerland_20Jul08
27373_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11 31344_male_Savoie_20Jul12 13370_female_Valais, Switzerland_20Jul08

A very high altitude species that I had never seen in France prior to 2010, and only saw for the first time in 2007 at one location in Switzerland. I have since seen it in small numbers in several high altitude locations in France. The male is a gleaming blue with marked black borders on both wings (although somewhat wider on 8321 than is shown in T&L), although the key to this species is the unh round white marks without any black spots inside (clearly illustrated in 13370 and 27373), making this species quite unmistakeable.

It is perhaps slight smaller than an average Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus).

 

This species was originally known as Agriades orbitulus. In 2017 it was reclassified as Albulina orbitulus and in 2018 it was again reclassified to Plebejus orbitulus. And in 2019 it has been reclassified as - can you believe it - back to Agriades orbitulus. At least, I believe that to be the case, as trying to keep up with the constant changes is not easy. I'll give it a few years before changing the web page (and all the occurrences and links associated) as it is entirely possible that the taxonomists will change it again.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
8321 M

this male clearly shows the deep blue, especially toward the hindwing margins. The strong black borders of even width and the clear white fringes make it relatively easy to identify.

2200
27363 M this is probably a better representation of the gleaming bright blue colour than 8321. 2550
31182 M this fresh male clearly shows the gleaming bright blue colour. 2090
46759 M a male, but not quite catching the gleaming blue which is typical of this species, maybe an effect of the camera angle. It is clearly orbitulus as the unh markings are sufficiently visible. 2280
8402 F

this female shows the plain brown upperside, becoming quite black-brown near the margins, especially on the hindwing.

2200
13379 F

a female, plain dark brown but with a spattering of blue scales in the basal area of the forewing, and, strangely, around the discoidal spot.

2200
27373 M the underside of a rather worn male, but at least it serves to illustrate the "empty" white unh spots. The unh ground colour is rather grey compared to the brownish illustration in T&L. 2550
31344 M I cannot decide whether the underside is naturally dull or whether this is the result of wear (which was not apparent from the upperside). 2070
13370 F

the underside of 13379. the characteristic unh "empty" markings are clearly shown.

2200

 

8321_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07

 

27363_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11

 

31182_male_Valais, Switzerland_12Jul12

 

46759_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19

 

8402_female_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07

 

13379_female_Valais, Switzerland_20Jul08

 

27373_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11

 

31344_male_Savoie_20Jul12

 

13370_female_Valais, Switzerland_20Jul08