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) - Bob Eade

Small Copper (upperwing)

Small Copper (upperwing) - Iain Leach

Small Copper (upperwing)

Small Copper (upperwing) - Bob Eade

Small Copper (upperwing)

Small Copper (underwing) - Ivan Lynas

Small Copper (underwing)

Small Copper (underwing) - Adrian Kennerley

Small Copper (underwing)

Small Copper (egg) - Gilles San Martin

Small Copper (egg)

Small Copper (caterpillar) - Gilles San Martin

Small Copper (caterpillar)

Small Copper (pupa) - Dean Morley

Small Copper (pupa)