Missing butterflies of Crete - photos © Xristos Dimadis

Missing butterflies of Crete - photos © Xristos Dimadis



There are 43 missing butterflies on the island of Crete, have you ever seen these species on the island of Crete?

These butterflies have been referenced as occurring in Crete by several sources over the last 200 years. For example, in “A revision of the genus Tarucus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) of Europe, North Africa, and Asia, Evans, W.H., Entomologist 88: 179-187, 1955)” two collected specimens (1 ♂, 1 ♀) of Tarucus balkanicus were reported from Crete. Nowadays, Tarucus balkanicus seems to be absent from the island, and the possibility of its existence should be evaluated. Consequently, habitats of the island related to its larva food plants (Ziziphus sp) need to be carefully monitored and investigated.

Habitat destruction through time is a reason for the possible extinction of certain species of Crete that actually occurred on the island in the past times. Crete is an isolated island and boasts unique ecosystems within small areas and this is a factor that could have made butterflies more vulnerable to extinction.

The threats of invasive species and poorly managed pesticide use, collectors, and worldwide trade in butterflies can also be sufficient to eliminate a species from an area, even without overt habitat destruction. The combination of these factors with the pressures of human development is sufficient to have pushed a butterfly species into extinction on the island or in any other parts of the world as well.

Of course, there is always the possibility of misidentified species in the past, because of their great similarity in external features of certain existing species of the island, i.e. Gonepteryx rhamni vs Gonepteryx cleopatra, Hipparchia syriaca vs Hipparchia cretica, etc.


The following catalog of missing butterflies of Crete was based on the information provided by the website https://www.pamperis.gr/THE_BUTTERFLIES_OF_GREECE/MAPS.html. The questioned species concerning the island of Crete are marked with a (?) in the distribution maps and have been proposed by L.N. Pamperis as a result of his personal investigations in published papers, scientific reports, travel reports, etc. In alphabetical order butterfly species of Crete that their presence worth to be investigated on the island:

Aglais io (Linnaeus, 1758)


Aglais urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Small Tortoiseshell

Anthocharis cardamines (Linnaeus, 1758)

Orange Tip

Anthocharis gruneri (Herrich-Schäffer, 1851)

Grüner’s Orange Tip

Archon apolinnus (Herbst, 1789)

False Apollo

Argynnis paphia (Linnaeus, 1758)

Silver-washed Fritillary

Borbo borbonica (Boisduval, 1833)

Zeller’s Skipper

Chazara briseis (Linnaeus, 1764)


Coenonympha pamphilus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Small Heath

Colias alfacariensis (Ribbe, 1905)

Berger’s Clouded Yellow

Colias erate (Esper, 1805)

Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow

Cupido alcetas (Hoffmannsegg, 1804)

Provencal Short-Tailed Blue

Cupido minimus (Fuesslin, 1775)

Small Blue

Erynnis tages (Linnaeus, 1758)

Dingy Skipper

Glaucopsyche alexis (Poda, 1761)

Green-underside Blue

Gonepteryx farinosa (Zeller, 1847)

Powdered Brimstone

Gonepteryx rhamni (Linnaeus, 1758)


Hipparchia senthes (Fruhstorfer, 1908)

Balkan Grayling

Hipparchia syriaca (Staudinger, 1871)

Eastern Rock Grayling

Hyponephele lycaon (Rottemburg, 1775)

Dusky Meadow Brown

Issoria lathonia (Linnaeus, 1758)

Queen of Spain Fritillary

Lasiommata maera (Linnaeus, 1758)

Large Wall

Lysandra bellargus (Rottemburg, 1775)

Adonis Blue

Maniola telmessia (Zeller, 1847)

Turkish Meadow Brown

Melanargia larissa (Geyer, 1828)

Balkan Marbled White

Ochlodes sylvanus (Esper, 1777)

Large Skipper

Papilio alexanor (Esper, 1777)

Southern Swallowtail

Parnassius apollo (Linnaeus, 1758)


Pieris krueperi (Staudinger, 1860)

Krueper’s Small White

Pieris mannii (Mayer, 1851)

Southern Small White

Pieris napi (Linnaeus, 1758)

Greenvein White

Polygonia c-album (Linnaeus, 1758)


Polyommatus thersites (Cantener, 1835)

Chapman’s Blue

Pontia chloridice (Hübner, 1813)

Small Bath White

Pyrgus carthami (Hübner, 1813)

Safflower Skipper

Pyrgus malvae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Grizzled Skipper

Pyronia tithonus (Linnaeus, 1771)


Satyrium acaciae (Fabricius, 1787)

Sloe Hairstreak

Spialia phlomidis (Herrich-Schäffer, 1845)

Persian Skipper

Tarucus balkanicus (Freyer, 1843)

Little Tiger Blue

Thymelicus lineola (Ochsenheimer, 1808)

Essex Skipper

Zerynthia cerisy (Godart, 1824)

Eastern Festoon

Zerynthia polyxena (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)

Southern Festoon 

*photo by Charles J. Sharp – Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharp photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58648461

**photo by Alpsdake – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19172688