Sunday, 5 February 2017

Small Copper [Lycaena phlaeas]

Even though the Small Copper can be found throughout most of Britain, it's numbers have fallen drastically over the last few years, becoming very rare in some areas.

The females are slightly larger than the males and, the male's abdomen is thinner than the females,  [best way to determine the sex of this butterfly] otherwise the sexes are alike. Normally in August an aberration form of this species can be found called Caeruleopunctata [mainly in the females] where there is a row of blue spots toward the bottom of each of the upper side of the hind wings and, there is also a very rarely seen aberration Albino form. There are 2-3 broods each year, flying between the beginning of April and the end of October.

The males can be found overlooking their territory on a favourite perch [whether it is on the ground, a flower, grass stem etc]  and, every now and again dashing off at high speed looking for females for which to mate with or, fighting off intruders. They use various flowers to feed on, including Fleabane, Ragwort [one of their favourites] and Thistles etc.

The females lay their eggs [ova, ovum] on Common and Sheep's Sorrel, even sometimes on Dock Leaves. They overwinter as a caterpillar.

Male Small Coper on Ragwort

Male Small Copper on Ribwort Plantain, overlooking his territory

Female Small Copper, form Caeruleopunctata

Female Small Copper

All photographs are the copyright of Nick Broomer

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