Gavarnie Blue (Plebejus pyrenaicus)

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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.




At last I have a page for pyrenaicus, and it hasn't been for want of trying. It is a very localised species, especially so on the French side of the Pyrénées where it is limited to the region around Gavarnie in the far south of the Hautes-Pyrénées very close to the border with Spain. It is mentioned in T&L that it occurs at the Col du Tourmalet, but that may be historical as I do not believe there are any recent records from this location. Its distribution is more widespread on the Spanish side, especially in the Picos de Europa region of the Cantabrian mountains in north-western Spain, so the English name is something of a misnomer, but the original names tend to stick.


It is very localised, even within its known locations and seems not to wander far from the larval hostplant Androsace villosa (no English name that I could find) which often grows isolated on rocky screes.


The photographs on this page are all of the same individual, the only one I have ever seen. Due to the vagaries of the weather and the flight period, having made several trips in past years to this location, when the season had been too early, too late, or the weather just inclement. In fact, on this occasion, there was only a brief interlude of sunny weather before the sky clouded over and rain set in.

It is an avid "puddler" i.e. taking salts (but only the males do this) from damp ground, and quite easy to approach when it is doing this.


It is a rather small blue, with quite a distinctive pale blue upperside colouring and a very distinctive underside pattern of markings that could only be confused with its nearest relative, Glandon Blue (P. glandon).


It was historically known as Agriades pyrenaicus, but changed to the genus Plebejus in 2010 and back to Agriades in 2017, so the technically correct current name is Agriades pyrenaicus. I have retained the genus name Plebejus on this web site as it has come into common usage and would be most frequently searched.


Bosnian Blue (P. dardanus), a species of the Balkans,  was originally classified as a subspecies of pyrenaicus but is now classified as a species in its own right. It is limited to localised regions of the Balkans.




alt. m

48188 M a male, the delicate pale blue colouring is almost unique to this species. 48210 is the same individual, and 48181 is the underside. 1700
48201 M the same individual as 48188, a more open-wing perspective. 1700
48181 M the underside of 48188. It appears to be slightly out of focus, but I think it is just the markings that give this impression. 1700