Lycaena phlaeas - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Lycaena phlaeas, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Lycaena phlaeas

BUTTERFLY INFO

Lycaena phlaeas is a butterfly of the family Lycaenidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus, 1761)

Common name

Small Copper

Classification

Family: Lycaenidae > Subfamily: Lycaeninae > Tribus: Lycaena > Genus: Lycaena

Wingspan

Male to female: 25-30 mm

Appearance
Both sexes have a similar appearance. The upper side of the forewings is orange and dark brown colored in the submarginal area, whilst the hindwing is brown with an orange margin. Only a small part of the submarginal area is light brown colored. There are several black spots forming a typical pattern for the species.
The underside forewing is similar to the upperside, and the hindwing is grey-brown with small dark spots and a hardly visible red-orange line in the submarginal area. 

Some females also have a row of blue spots within the orange border and are known as the caeruleopunctata form (Lycaena phlaeas f. caeruleopunctata, Ruhl 1893) and occur in Crete.

Behavior

The butterfly often basks on bare ground, periodically visiting various wildflowers for nectar. It flies low to the ground in short flies.

In bright sun it is a very active little butterfly with the males setting up small territories which they will defend vigorously. Even the shadow of a large bird passing overhead is enough to elicit a response.

Habitat

Lycaena phlaeas in Crete is found in a wide range of habitats i.e. fallow land, field boundary strips, glades, ruderal areas, seaside, fields, shrubland.

Food plant

The larva feeds on Polygonaceae (Polygonum, Rumex acetosella) plants.

Flight Period

The butterfly flies in 3 generations at least per year.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Remarks

The Small Copper has a unique appearance in Crete and can’t be confused with any other butterflies of the island.

Status*

Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010)

Lycaena Phlaeas Distribution Map

*based on http://www.pamperis.gr/THE_BUTTERFLIES_OF_GREECE/MAPS.html

Lycaena phlaeas location map based on greek butterflies distributions map by L.N. Pamperis (revised 2021)

butterfliesofcrete.com