Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Small Copper Butterfly

(!) Small Copper
(!) Small Copper
(2) Small Copper
(2) Small Copper
(3) Small Copper
(3) Small Copper
(4) Small Copper
(4) Small Copper
(5) Small Copper
(5) Small Copper
(6) Small Copper
(6) Small Copper
(7) Small Copper
(7) Small Copper

 

 

The Small Copper
This is not the brightest image of this species, but it is by far the nicest looking of the one’s that I have, as the others are more of a reddish brown, but they were all facing away from me, and this one has such a lovely face, that I wanted you to see it, and also it is the first time that I have been able to see its whole face ,as it is usually flat on the ground or grass with its wings wide open and its head down and not on a rock as you see here, so it’s a first for me and also for you.


The brighter ones will have just hatched and are fully resplendent in their birthday suit. Although they are small, they are easily spotted as they are very colourful, so an easy meal can be had, but maybe their predators are colouring blind? This colour will not last for very long however as the colour fade fairly quickly. Not overnight , but like most l butterflies the passing of time is short for lots of them and when you come across one that has come to the end of its life, it is what we say in Scotland ‘Peely-wally’. (Faded)
My favourite place to find them is between Killchattan Bay and Glen Callum Bay along the coastline, as it is easy access with the bus taking the strain for the first eight miles, then we have a nice easy path with only a few hard bits to overcome. They are not very easy to film as they spook as soon as the feel your vibrations or see you, but they land again very soon but are still very wary. They, like other species seem to like being close to the shore where there are paths and they seemed to like being on them, with landing on them farther along when disturbed. I have searched many places around Bute for more of them, but with no luck.
But recently, I was also told that more of them had been seen between Glecknabae and Kilmichael, so off I went in search for them, and as this area faces south, it is ideal for them as like all butterflies, they like the sun. Well it was not too long before I found them. Not a lot, but they may have just recently taken up residence there, so it was nice to have another site for me to keep my eye on.
Well this was last year, so I will keep on searching this and the following years to find how far they have spread
Their size is between 26-36 mm for male. 30-40mm for female and their larva feed on sheep’s sorrel, and the Butterflies are on the wing from May till September, and there will be two or three broods. Variable orange and dark brown on the upperwings. Underwings have similar patterns to upperwings but dark brown replaced by grey-buff.


Norrie Mulholland

First published in the Buteman 02-03-2012


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