Small Copper

Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus, [1760])



A small copper-coloured butterfly. The forewing upperside has a broad brown margin and black spots, whilst the hindwing is brown with an orange margin. The underside forewing is similar to the upperside, and the hindwing is greyish-brown with small dark spots, and the orange spots along the margin are faintly visible. Male and female are similar. Its small size and markings should avoid confusion with other species of the genus. There are two aberrations of this butterfly which are commonly encountered in Corfu. The first which is widely known as the 'Hellenic' form amongst members of CBC, is actually referred to in the scientific literature as ab. fuscae Robs., in which the forewing upperside is almost entirely brown. The second variant which is habitually seen has bright blue spots on the hindwing uppersides and is known as ab. caeruleopunctata Ruhl.

Habitat Requirements

The success of this butterfly is mostly due to its easily replicated, fine scale habitat structure, which usually includes vegetation with small patches of open bare and thus warm, ground.

Larval Foodplants

Knot Grass Polygonum aviculare, Clustered Dock Rumex conglomeratus, Curled dock Rumex crispus, Rumex tuberosus subsp. Tuberosus.


This is a globally distributed species, whose adult butterflies fly fast and low, settling frequently to bask in sunny open spaces. Here they spend a significant portion of their time thermoregulating, enabling them to respond quickly to other insects that may enter their territory. Their highly territorial behaviour is not restricted to insects their own size and they can commonly be observed pursuing butterflies more than twice their dimensions.

*The information provided in the tables below is based on verified sightings of the Small Copper submitted via this website since 1st January 2021.

First and Last Sightings

Year First Last/latest # Days
2023 06/01/2023 27/11/2023 325 days
2022 30/01/2022 26/12/2022 330 days
2021 23/02/2021 24/11/2021 274 days

Number of Observations

Year Number of observations
2023 391
2022 561
2021 158
Grand Total 1110

Distribution Map

Distribution maps for this species are currently unavailable.

Flight Times for the Small Copper (2023)

The chart below shows flight data by month for 2023

Flight Times for the Small Copper (All Data)

The chart below shows flight data by month since 1st January 2021


  • Vernacular/Common Name: Small Copper
  • Family: Lycaenidae (Leach, 1815)
  • Sub-family: Lycaeninae (Leach, 1815)
  • Tribe: Lycaenini (Leach, 1815)
  • Genus: Lycaena (Fabricius, 1807)
  • Species: phlaeas (Linnaeus, [1760])


For a list of references, please see our bibliography page.