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
- Size: Small
- Wing Span Range (male to female): 32-35mm
- Butterfly Conservation Priority: Low
- European status: Not threatened
Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep's Sorrel (R. acetosella) are the main foodplants. Broad-leaved Dock (R. obtusifolius) may be occasionally used.
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.
- Countries: England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
- Throughout Britain and Ireland except the uplands of northern Britain
- Distribution Trend Since 1970’s: -16%
- Butterflies and farmland
- Farmland Butterflies ID chart
- Butterflies in towns and cities
- Woodlands for Butterflies and Moths