Caterpillar of the Small Copper


One of the caterpillar targets for this season has been to track down the Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). In late 2015, all I was able to find was empty egg shells. I knew the habitat was right, now it was just about timing.

A couple days ago spring came back. With raising temperatures it was clear that the caterpillars will become active again. This time, I even got lucky. After browsing tiny growth of Rumex I managed to find one. Just a single one, but that’s all I needed.

Here’s a couple photos of the mid-sized caterpillar (taken in captivity). It’s size is about 8mm, and after hibernation it will probably feed for another two weeks or so.

The quest for the Small Copper

This year one of my target caterpillars for raising is the Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). This butterflies is one of the smallest but most common species in our region. Nevertheless, finding caterpillars is a bit tricky.

As with many species of the Blues, caterpillars are tiny and well disguised. This counts for the Small Copper, too. I’ve been browsing through vegetation accepted as host plant every once in a while, with no results so far. In autumn 2015, however, I tracked down a habitat where I’ll continue my search this spring. Just nearby where we live, in a small rocky forest.

One afternoon I spent checking Rumex plants on those rocks, finding two empty egg shell. Caterpillars I found none, possibly they had already withdrawn for hibernation as it was later in autumn. I’m optimistic to find slightly larger caterpillars once the snow has gone and the warm spring sun gets the plants to grow again.

Blue’n orange

There’s a particular moment after midsummer when various species of the Blues and Fritillaries hatch. During those days it feels like almost all butterflies around carry blue or orange shades. It’s also one of the most difficult times to properly identify sighted species. Please drop me a not in case I’ve misidentified any of the creatures listed below.

After the rain comes the sun

After 4 weeks of poor weather (including pouring rain and temperatures as low as 4 decrees Celsius right before Midsummer) the sun woke up again. Initially I hit the greenery to search for caterpillars of the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa). However, seeing all the butterflies flying around I completely lost focus.

Here’s some of the shots I got. It was lots of Fritillaries and Blues and I’m not good in identifying all those species. Forgive me if I’m wrong on some of my definitions, or if I just leave the species open.

Small Copper

Size is not the only criteria that counts when it comes to butterflies. Sometimes it’s the tiny ones that are the true beauties. Here’s some shots I got of a Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). Depending on the light conditions the colors shimmer like e.g. the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) or many species of the butterfly family called Lycaenidae¬†(which also the Smalle Copper belongs to).

Another species I finally caught with my camera this spring, not a special photo though, is the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). The Holly Blue is the first of the Blues to fly in spring and has been around for already some time now. A female was taking a rest just long enough to get a single photo.

I’ll try to get better photos, particularly of the Small Copper, later on. Lots of other species of the Blues have been reported to have started their flight in Finland during the last week. Hopefully I can finally cover some of them with good footage as well. In the meantime, the sunny and warm days are over for at least the next couple days.