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small copper   <>   lycaena phlaeas   <>   copróg bheag


© Deirdre Hardiman   

Habitat:  The Small Copper is widespread and fairly common throughout Ireland in open countryside where its food plants, mainly members of the Dock family, are to be found.  
There are 2-3 broods annually.
Larval Food Plants:  Common Sorrel  Rumex acetosa
                                              Sheep's Sorrel   Rumex acetosella
Flight Time:   May
                           July and August
                           October (sometimes)
Hibernation:   Overwinters as a larva. 
This small butterfly is widespread and common and is also quite "territorial" in its behaviour.  It flies very quickly and is difficult to follow with the eye.



© D Hardiman 2005   



                                                                                    Life Cycle of  the Small Copper


The minute eggs resembling flattened golf  balls are c.0.6 mm in diameter.  They are laid singly at the base of
Sorrel and sometimes Dock leaves in May and July and sometimes again in autumn, and hatch in c. 6 days.


After hatching the egg shell is not eaten by the young larva and may be seen on the leaf  for many weeks.
The larva can be found normally on the underside of  the leaf  where it forms a groove in which it feeds on the 
lower epidermis while leaving the upper epidermis intact.  These form the characteristic opaque windows and 
grooves found all over the leaf.

© DHardiman 2003  


The summer larva matures in about 4 weeks and goes into pupation producing adult butterflies within the next
month.   But the last larval brood overwinterS as any instar up to the third (there are 4-5 instars). There it
hibernates  on a pad of silk spun on the food plant  but occasionally  leaving the pad to feed for short  periods
if the weather is mild.  Completion of growth and normal feeding resumes in March.  By the end of the month
the now mature larva leaves its food plant to pupate.


Pupation takes between  25 and 30 days after overwintering but is shorter in the summer brood.  It occurs low
in vegetation or on dead leaves.  The pupa is attached  by cremasteral hooks to a silken pad produced by the 
mature larva and supported by a silk girdle to the underside of a leaf or stem.

© DHardiman 2003  


The Adult emerges and is on the wing around mid-May and again in July and August (and sometimes 
in October).

© DHardiman 2005  



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 GreenHairstreak ] BrownHairstreak ] PurpleHairstreak ] [ SmallCopper ] SmallBlue ] CommonBlue ] HollyBlue ] 

Hesperidae ] Pieridae ] Lycaenidae ] Nymphalidae ] Satyridae ] Migrants ] .