Coenonympha thyrsis, endemic-photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Coenonympha thyrsis, endemic-photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Coenonympha thyrsis


Coenonympha thyrsis is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Coenonympha thyrsis (Freyer, 1845)

Common name

Cretan Small Heath


Family: Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Satyrinae > Tribus: Satyrini > Genus: Coenonympha


Male to female: 25-30 mm


Cretan Small Heath is the smallest Nymphalidae species on the island.

The upper side of the wings is light orange with a brown band in the submarginal area and a dark mark on the forewing.

The underside of the forewing is also orange with a characteristic black eye. There are also several small triangular black marks with beautiful silvery lines in the submarginal area of the underside of the hindwing.

Females appear to be larger with a lighter color and have an additional small black spot in the postdiscal area of the underside of the forewing.


It has a fast flight low to the ground, and never opens its wings when resting.


Coenonympha thyrsis in Crete can be found in nearly all possible at least half-open places from the coast up to 2,000 m asl on rocky to stony slopes.

Food plant

The larva lives on Poaceae, and Labiatae (Thymus) plants.

Flight period

The butterfly flies in 1-2 generations per year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Although Cretan Small Heath is an endemic species with a restricted range, this butterfly is not believed to face major threats.

The butterfly is widespread and common across Crete.


Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010).