Little Tiger blue

Little Tiger blue / Tarucus balkanicus / فراشة النمر الصغيرة الزرقاء

Picture Resource: By Dr. Raju Kasambe - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0Link

Status: Common

This small sized butterfly with a wing-span of 18-22 mm belongs to the family of ‘Blues’ , Lycaenidae Also commonly known as the Balkan Pierot or Little Tiger Blue, it is the only representative of the Tiger Blues, Tarucus sp. in the south Mediterranean region.

This butterly has a wide distribution range extending from the southeast Europe to North Africa, middle east and central Asia upto northwest India and the far-east.

In Palestine, it is found in the Jordan valley, being very common in northern Palestine and in southern Palestine mostly along the Mediterranean coast. However the global distribution range of this butterfly is both within and outside the Mediterranean region.

This species flies all the year round except in January and February and with several generations in a year. The peak flight period is from April to October.

This species shows a distinct difference in the upperside of the wings in males and females. In males the upperside of the forewings is blue in colour while that in females is brown. The outer margin of both forewings and hindwings in both males and females have a black margin with a silvery white border and the lower part of the hindwings have a small tail on each wing. The upper side of both sets of wings in males and females have multiple black spots. The lowerside of fore and hindwings are similar in both males and females with a white coloured background and black irregular shaped lines. The outer margin of the hindwings have 6 rounded black markings or eyes with a silvery blue filling.

Due to the small size and quick flight, it is not very easy to identify this species except for this distinctive pattern of silvery blue eyes on the lower side of the hindwings which can be clearly identified while at rest with wings folded up.

This species usually prefers the desert and semi-desert  region with habitats ranging from hot dry scrubland to dry savanna or grasslands with open vegetation and permanent water bodies with a variety of wild flowers. It is found at altitudes from 400-1700 metres above mean sea level.

The Little Tiger Blue is mostly found in those habitats where there is a good availability of its host plants like the Christ's Thorn (Paliurus spina-christi), Paliurus australis, Ziziphus lotus, Z. leucodermis, Z. nummularia and Z. vulgaris.

IUCN conservation status - Least concern

Picture Resource: By Dr. Raju Kasambe - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link