New large blue butterfly discovered

Phengaris xiushani

From Wildlife Extra:

New species of Large Blue butterfly

17/06/2010 22:36:50

First Large Blue to be found in mountain forests

June 2010: A new species of butterfly has been found in southern China. It is the first Large Blue to be found living in mountain forests.

From northwestern Yunnan, the butterfly was discovered by Professor Min Wang of the South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China and Dr Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Halle, Germany. The species has been described in open access journal ZooKeys and has been named Phengaris xiushani, in tribute to Dr Xiushan Li, the scientist who has helped coordinate the joint efforts of Chinese and German butterfly researchers.

The Large Blues belong to the most intensively studied group of butterflies in Eurasia, probably as a result of their “obscure” biology and ecology. They depend on specific food plants, which is not in itself surprising, but also, during their life as a caterpillar feed of particular species of ants. Such specialised habitat requirements have made them vulnerable to climate change and habitat alteration.

The discovery of the new species now was quite surprising, although contrary to the European species (which are well known under their scientific name Maculinea) the Chinese species, which include both the Maculinea and the Phengaris blues, are not so well studied and monitored due to lack of financial and personnel resources. Consequently, nothing is known on the ecology of this new species, with the exception that it lives in undisturbed forested mountains, unlike other Large Blues which live in grasslands.

Descriptions of 3 new species of Ypsolopha (Lepidoptera: Ypsolophidae) from East Asia: here.

Large blue butterfly moves to Cotswolds: here.

English blue butterflies: here.

April 2011: Caterpillars that masquerade as twigs to avoid becoming a bird’s dinner are actually using clever behavioural strategies to outwit their predators, according to a new study: here.

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