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The natural history of the Sinai Baton Blue: the smallest butterfly in the world

M James


Knowledge of the ecology and life history of endangered species is necessary for their successful conservation. In this chapter, I provide a detailed account of the natural history of the Sinai Baton Blue butterfly. I review current knowledge of the genus Pseudophilotes, and explore the butterfly’s phylogeny. This emphasises the paucity of knowledge surrounding the butterfly and related species, and highlights the general differences in its ecology compared with other species used in metapopulation studies. I provide a description of all stages in the butterfly’s lifecycle, including its larval stages (which have never before been described). Using quantitative data relating to adult size, I show that the Sinai Baton Blue can justify claims made that it is ‘the smallest butterfly in the world’. I also provide considerable quantitative data on the butterfly’s behaviour and ecology, and examine aspects of its mating and oviposition behaviour. Colour photographs illustrate its habitus and aspects of its behaviour and ecology.

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eISSN: 1110-6859