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

Conservation Status

  • 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.

Lifecycle

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.

Distribution

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

Small Copper (upperwing) by Peter Eeles

Small Copper (upperwing)

Small Copper (underwing) by Jim Asher

Small Copper (underwing)

Small Copper (caterpillar) by Peter Eeles

Small Copper (caterpillar)

Small Copper (pupa) by Peter Eeles

Small Copper (pupa)

Small Copper (egg) by Jim Asher

Small Copper (egg)