Issue Date: 11/07/2013
Issue Name: Butterflies - The Chalkhill Blue
Producer: Buckingham Covers
Butterflies are a classic topic popular with collectors and the public alike. The Butterflies issue, celebrating the British love of butterflies and is an exceptional set of 10 stamps, that we have split over two covers. This cover features 5 of the Buterfly stamps along with a Chalk, Gravesend Kent postmark, and is available signed by David Bellamy OBE or Nick Baker.
The Chalkhill Blue
As its name suggests, the Chalkhill Blue is found on chalk downland, although they are also found on some limestone downlands. The adult butterfly is most-often seen in bright sunshine, where the ground may appear to shimmer with the activity of hundreds, if not thousands, of males searching for a mate just a few inches above the ground. The males can fly for just over a kilometer while the females stay in one area, which limits the colonization of new sites.
The species has only one generation a year in Britain. Eggs are laid singly, low down on large vigorous clumps of Horseshoe Vetch. The caterpillars, which hatch the following spring, are green with strong yellow bands. They feed at night on the Horseshoe Vetch which grows in chalk and limestone grassland, which again restricts where you will find colonies of Chalkhill Blues. After two months on the ground they pupate.
Older larvae and the pupae make secretions which attract ants, including the Yellow Meadow Ant Lasius flavus, a species which requires bare ground. The ants give them protection at this vulnerable stage of the life cycle and may even take the pupae below ground.
The adults emerge in mid to late July and will be on the wing until the end of August or start of September.
This species is restricted to England, south east of a line running from West Gloucestershire in the west and Kent to Cambridgeshire in the east.
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