Small copper Lycaena phlaeas

Best time to see: May to mid Oct

Key facts

A brilliant copper-coloured butterfly, often seen basking with open wings

Habitat: rough open areas where its caterpillars' foodplants – mainly sorrels – grow

Declining due to intensification of agriculture, but still common throughout lowland Britain


Upperwings shining copper with black marks and borders; underside grey brown and pale orange with black spots

Generally seen in ones or twos, living in small colonies


Eggs like tiny white golf balls laid on young sorrel leaves first in May; second or third batches laid in warm summers

Caterpillars are plain green and slug-like, eating grooves in the sorrel leaves

Pupates among dead leaf litter

© Tony Gunton