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Small Copper / Common Copper. Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus, 1760)

Diputación de Málaga

Small Copper / Common Copper. Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus, 1760)

Wingspan: From 2.2 to 3 cm.

Routes where it can be observed


Open wings: The forewings are shiny orange with a broad orange margin. There is a series of spots over the wings. The hindwings are brown with an orange stripe parallel to the margin, and some bluish small spots above it. Some butterflies' from the last generations can be less orange and darker.

Closed wings: The forewings are orange with black spots. The apex and the outer margins are brown. The hindwings are light brown, though they become darker at the outer margin, where you can see a thin orange stripe and some very vague small dark spots spread over the wings.

Similar species

Purple-shot Copper: It is larger. When it stretches the wings, the brown margins are narrower, so a series of dots parallel to it can be noticed. The hindwings are completely orange and dotted.  When its wings are closed, they are paler. The forewings margins have series of dots instead of brown colour. The orange spot on the hindwings is broader and outlined by dots. The rest of the wings are covered in well-defined black dots.

Provence Hairstreak: If butterflies are well-preserved they cannot be confused with the Small Copper. Nevertheless, it the colour gets worn out in time, there is to check carefully if there are white spots over the black dots on the forewings, and white spots that are parallel to the margisn on the hindwings.

Biology and Habitat

They take two or three generations a year to fly every month, above all from March to July.

These butterflies live in all kinds of habitats, from high forests to places with scarce plant life, such as rural places, uncultivated and wasteland, where it can be found at limited number of places. Their caterpillars feed on the Polygonaceae, such as Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella).

Distribution in the Great Path

This species is present at all stages, although it is less common and limited to specific spots in the north of the province, on the coast, or in urban areas, where it depends on wild plants.