Chequered Blue Butterfly (Scolitantides orion)

Pricing: No Specimens Available For Sale
Geographic Range: Eurasia
View: Top View  Size: Wingspan: 26-29 mm


Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Scolitantides orion is a distinctive butterfly that is widespread throughout much of Eurasia, from Spain across to Japan. It is known by the common name "Chequered Blue" and several subspecies have been described across it's vast range: S. o. orion, S. o. johanseni and S. o. jezoensis. Two generations are produced each year (except in the colder, northern edges of its range) and it is on the wing from April to August. Larvae mature in one month and pupate beneath rocks. S. orion is impossible to misidentify as it has a striking chequered fringe and a very piebald underside. While the males tend to have more blue coloration than the females S. orion is very variable in color and the dorsal surface of the wings is sometimes devoid of blue (or the blue patch is greatly reduced) in both sexes. Second, summer broods are darker than spring broods. S. orion occurs in xerothermic habitats, preferring hot, rocky slopes where its host plant Sedum grows. Since it prefers hot, dry climates it is much more common in the southern part of its range. There it is often associated with vineyards because it shares the grape vine's (Vitis vinifera) taste in habitat. In fact, viticulture is an increasing threat to these butterflies as more and more growers exploit every bit of their land. On a more positive note, some vineyard owners in the Rhone Valley avoid using pesticides and ensure that there are plenty of other plant species between their rows of grapes, allowing for habitat. S. orion is protected by law in Poland and is of special concern in many other European countries. The strong regional differences in coloration from one population to the next confirm that this is a very sedentary species, vulnerable to local extinctions. The specimen pictured was collected in Levice, Slovakia.