Distribution: From Catalonia and the southern Pyrenees throughout
Spain and Portugal.
Identification: Very similar to the Baton Blue, with which it may fly
in Catalonia. But in general the Panoptes Blue lacks all but the most
rudimentary orange underside hindwing markings. Another similar species, the
False Baton Blue, Pseudophilotes abencerragus, is extremely similar and
they do fly together in limited areas of S Spain and S Portugal. To date I am
unsure about how to separate them, although the False Baton is said to have
steely grey blue uppersides compared to the brighter blue of Panoptes. I'm yet
to be convinced if this is sufficient to separate the species in the field.
Flight time: April/ June and July/ August according to the standard
textbooks. In Catalonia, sites were I found it commonly in May 2007 had no
butterflies in early August 2003.
Habitat: Dry places with Thyme nearby. In my limited experience, the
butterflies flies amongst scrub in small clearings or along roadsides bordered
by scrub. Larval food plant is Thyme (Thymus) (see photos of female
laying eggs on Thyme).
Behaviour: A ground hugging species. Its small size and quick movement
make it difficult to follow amongst the sparse grasses and low plants that make
up its habitat. But it rarely flies far, often returning to the same patch of
flowers again and again. Some individuals are very small, the size of the Small
Blue, Cupido minimus.
Additional notes: If anyone knows of a definitive separation from the
False Baton Blue, Pseudophilotes abencerragus, I'd be grateful for the