Small Copper

  • Small Copper (upperwing)
    Small Copper (upperwing)
  • Small Copper (underwing)
    Small Copper (underwing)
  • Small Copper (caterpillar)
    Small Copper (caterpillar)
  • Small Copper (pupa)
    Small Copper (pupa)
  • Small Copper (egg)
    Small Copper (egg)
  • Video play iconSmall Copper (upperwing)
    Small Copper (video)
  • Small Copper (upperwing)
    Small Copper (upperwing)
  • Small Copper (underwing)
    Small Copper (underwing)
  • Small Copper (caterpillar)
    Small Copper (caterpillar)
  • Small Copper (pupa)
    Small Copper (pupa)
  • Small Copper (egg)
    Small Copper (egg)
  • Small Copper (upperwing)
    Small Copper (video)

Scientific name: Lycaena phlaeas

Bright copper with brown spots and brown margin. Undersides orange-brown with spots.

The Small Copper is usually seen in ones and twos, but in some years large numbers may be found at good sites. Males are territorial, often choosing a piece of bare ground or a stone on which to bask and await passing females. They behave aggressively towards any passing insects, returning to the same spot when the chase is over.

Though it remains a common and widespread species, the Small Copper declined throughout its range during the twentieth century. Widespread through Britain and Ireland, and occasionally visits gardens. 

Size and Family

  • Family – Coppers
  • Small Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 32-35mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP status: Not listed         
  • Butterfly Conservation Priority: Low            
  • European status: Not threatened  

Caterpillar Foodplants

Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep's Sorrel (R. acetosella) are the main foodplants. Broad-leaved Dock (R. obtusifolius) may be occasionally used.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
  • Throughout Britain and Ireland except the uplands of northern Britain
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = Britain: -16%

Habitat

Occurs in a wide variety of habitats. Commonly found on chalk or unimproved grassland, heathland, woodland clearings, waste ground and moorland. Warm, dry conditions are favoured.

Factsheets

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