Subject: Small Butterfly
July 21, 2015 1:55 pm
I should like to know what kind of butterfly the one in pictures is.
I took the photos on my balcony, just outside the city of Ekeren Belgium, it is the fist time that I see one of those butterflies.
Thanks and best regards
This is one of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae, and we have narrowed it down to a Copper in the genus Lycaena. We believe it might be a Violet Copper, Lycaena helle, which is pictured on EuroButterflies where it states: “This gorgeous little butterfly has a very patch distribution within its range of central and northern Europe. Where it does occur it is very local and colonies are hard to find. The adults are so small the butterfly is difficult to locate too. As a result it is a difficult species to encounter. It can be common when found but most of my experiences are of just a few individuals. Identification & Similar species: The butterfly is distinctive and unlikely to be confused with other coppers, Lycaena. The upperside violet sheen is striking and particularly noticeable in the male.” Sadly, your lovely images do not show the dorsal side of the wings. While the spotted pattern on the ventral side of the wings is very close, it is not identical, but we believe that local populations may have some variation, especially since the distribution is indicated as patchy, and these butterflies don’t travel very far. It appears your individual is nectaring from lavender, which is an particular favorite flower for the Gossamer Winged Butterflies. According to TrekNature: “The violet copper is a widely distributed but very local butterfly, whose wetland habitat is increasingly under threat. A fresh male cannot really be mistaken for anything else, though I have known people mistake particularly bright sooty coppers for violet coppers. The female has different markings but both sexes share the row of white chevrons on the underside, making the species easily distinguishable at all times if the underside can be seen.” Your individual has the white chevron markings, so we are relatively confident our identification is correct.
Thank you very much for your very quick response and nice description and links, I was really intrigued by this little butterfly because I had never seen one of them before.
thanks again and have a nice day