Cupido minimus | Small Blue | Gormán beag

Pre 2017

2017 - 2021


Conservation status

Ireland: Endangered (Regan et al., 2010)
Europe: Least Concern (van Swaay et al., 2010)
Climate risk category: Climate Change Risk; present distribution in Europe can be explained by climate to a moderate extent (Settele et al., 2008)


Legal status

The Small blue is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Small size, wingspan: 18-27 mm
  • Plain blue-grey under wing with only black spots. It does not have any orange markings.
  • Flies low over the ground


Specialist, unimproved dry calcareous grassland, coastal grey dunes, machair, limestone pavement, calcareous moraine and scree. Adults fly in sunshine, but are sedentary for much of the time, the males basking with wings half-opened. Males, which are not territorial, spend much time perched on small shrubs or stems of long grasses, but the females tend to stay closer to the ground in the vicinity of the foodplant. In dull weather and overnight adults perch on grass stems or other vegetation about 1m above ground (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Flight period

Univoltine: May to July, with a partial 2nd generation observed in good years.

Life stages

Life cycle

Eggs are laid on the calyx of a flower of the foodplant, usually tucked in and hidden among the adjoining calyces. Immature inflorescences are usually selected. The larvae emerge about late June and feeds first by boring through the calyx and corolla to feed concealed on the ovary and developing seeds. As it grows, it feeds with the posterior segments exposed. The young larvae can move to other flowers within the same inflorescence, and are cannibalistic when they meet. They are attractive to ants, but are not attended by them. They leave the foodplant about the end of July to enter diapause under it. Overwintering occurs in larval diapause, with pupation from late April onwards, the pupa usually being attached to a silk pad in moss, grass, or under a leaf. It is, however, believed that the pupa is sometimes buried in protective earth cells by ants attracted to it. The emerging adult appears not to be negatively affected by this (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

Specialist, the larvae feeds exclusively on Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria).

Flowers visited

Specialist, the adult’s nectar sources include: Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) and Vetches (Vicia spp.).


World distribution(GBIF)

It occurs across Europe, eastward into Asia (Nash et al. 2012)

Irish distribution

Locally distribution, mostly along the coast, but also found at some dry inland sites. 

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



Bond, K.G.M. and Gittings, T. 2008. Database of Irish Lepidoptera. 1 - Macrohabitats, microsites and traits of Noctuidae and butterflies. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 35. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Regan, E.C., Nelson, B., Aldwell, B., Bertrand, C., Bond, K., Harding, J., Nash, D., Nixon, D. and Wilson, C.J. 2010. Ireland Red List No. 4 – Butterflies. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Settele, J., Kudrna, O., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Van Swaay, C., Verovnik, R., Warren, M.S., Wiemers, M., Hanspach, J., Hickler, T. and Kühn, E. 2008. Climatic risk atlas of European butterflies. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.

Van Swaay, C., Cuttelod, A., Collins, S., Maes, D., López Munguira, M., Šašic, M., Settele, J., Verovnik, R., Verstrael, T., Warren, M., Wiemers, M. and Wynhof, I. 2010. European Red List of Butterflies. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.