Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Male. Taken at Lardon Chase, Berks on August 30th 2010.
(1/200th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Male underside. Taken at Beauregard, France on June 26th 2010.
(1/160th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Male - aberration radiata. Taken at Aston Rowant, Oxon on July 28th 2012.
(1/250th sec at f10. Approx 3x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Male - aberration caeruleopunctata. Taken at Aston Upthorpe Downs, August 11th 2012.
(1/320th sec at f11. © David Hastings)


Wing span: 27 - 36 mm

This is the only butterfly in Britain with coppery-orange wings, and as such is unmistakable. The size and position of the black forewing spots is quite variable. There is a fairly common aberration which has small blue dots on the hindwing, and another where the orange band on the hindwings is split up, or may be missing entirely.

It is found widely throughout the British Isles except for north-west Scotland.

It is found in a wide variety of habitats but it favours warm, dry sites such as downland, heathland, coastal dunes and shingle. It can also be seen in parks and gardens.

There are typically 2 or 3 generations each year, depending on the weather, with 4 believed to be possible in extremely good years. The first adults emerge in May, occasionally at the end of April, depending on location. The next generation emerges at the end of July, or beginning of August. Adults may also appear in September, depending on location. The species over-winters as a larva.

The main larval foodplants are Common Sorrel and Sheep's Sorrel. Broad-leaved Dock is also used.

Favourite nectar sources are Fleabane and Ragwort.

Males establish territories and leave their perches to attack any passing insect or to pursue any female which appears.

This species is of Least Concern on the UK list.


16-May-2019 : Abingdon, Oxon (1)
14-May-2019 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (6)
04-May-2019 : Gilfach Farm, Powys (1)
22-Apr-2019 : Hackpen Hill, Oxon (1)

15-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain (1)
13-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain (1)
10-Oct-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)
27-Sep-2018 : Chimney Meadows, Oxon (6)
24-Sep-2018 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
06-Sep-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)
20-Aug-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (4)
07-Aug-2018 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (5)
06-Aug-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (6)
02-Aug-2018 : Lardon Chase, Berks (2)
31-Jul-2018 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (4)
31-Jul-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (1)
14-Jul-2018 : Watlington Hill, Oxon (1)
10-Jul-2018 : Greenham Common, Berks (3)
06-Jun-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (1)
03-Jun-2018 : Bentley Wood, Wilts (1)
03-Jun-2018 : Stockbridge Down, Hants (5)
27-May-2018 : Ardley Quarry, Oxon (1)
26-May-2018 : The Holies, Berks (1)
22-May-2018 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (3)
20-May-2018 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (3)
14-May-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (5)

06-Sep-2017 : Folly Park, Faringdon, Oxon (2)
20-Aug-2017 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (2)
17-Aug-2017 : Lardon Chase, Berks (4)
16-Aug-2017 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (3)
15-Aug-2017 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (1)
12-Aug-2017 : Dersingham Bog, Norfolk (1)
06-Aug-2017 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (3)
23-Jul-2017 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (6)
18-Jul-2017 : Greenham Common, Berks (1)
08-Jul-2017 : Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon (1)
08-Jul-2017 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (3)
09-Jun-2017 : Paklenica National Park, Croatia
05-Jun-2017 : Zagreb Airport, Croatia
07-May-2017 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (2)

03-Nov-2016 : Embalse de Montejaque, Spain (1)
18-Sep-2016 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)
07-Aug-2016 : Cothill Fen, Oxon (1)
06-Aug-2016 : Greenham Common, Berks (2)
30-Jul-2016 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (1)
27-May-2016 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (1)

29-Aug-2015 : Lardon Chase, Berks (1)
22-Aug-2015 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (2)
22-Aug-2015 : Yeosden Bank, Bucks (2)
16-Aug-2015 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (2)
15-Aug-2015 : Rushy Common, Oxon (1)
08-Aug-2015 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (1)
06-Aug-2015 : Marston Meadows, Oxon (3)
30-Jul-2015 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (2)
22-Jul-2015 : Kresna Gorge, Bulgaria
22-Jul-2015 : nr Lilyanovo, Bulgaria
21-Jul-2015 : nr Petrovo, Bulgaria
11-Jul-2015 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (1m,1f)
07-Jun-2015 : Lardon Chase, Berks (1)
06-Jun-2015 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (1)
30-May-2015 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (1)
21-May-2015 : Marston Meadows, Oxon (1)
17-May-2015 : Stockbridge Down, Hants (1)
04-May-2015 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (2)