Lycaena virgaureae

Scarce Copper


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

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Madrid, Spain, July 2011

Male. Presence of spots indicates subspecies miegii.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2019

Field notes and information

The males of this species are super bright red-orange. When basking with wings open they stand out dramatically in flowery meadows. It is a common butterfly of mountains in the west, becoming more widespread in the eastern Europe.

Identification & Similar species: Males with very bright upperside markings, with black marginal band becoming wider near the apex. Some individuals, and all those in central Spain, have two or three black spots and a cell spot. The underside is characteristic with a row of white spots in the post discal area on an otherwise uniform light brown ground colour.

Distribution & Flight: Mountains of central and northern Spain, France and eastwards through Italy, the Balkans and Scandinavia. Single brooded flying from June to September with peak numbers in July.

Habitat & Behaviour: Flowery meadows, damp places in hills and mountains.

Variation: Variable in many characteristics, particularly the females. Subspecies miegii is found in central Spain. The males have a black cell spot on the upperside forewing and 3 or more spots in an arc near the apex.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2017

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Hautes Alpes, France, August 2012

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SE Serbia, June 2012

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2017

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Hautes-Pyrénées, France, July 2017

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Rila Mts, Bulgaria, July 2004

Male showing dazzling red upperside - visible across meadows from great distances.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2005

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Asturias Mts, Spain, July 2011

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2022

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2022

Bypassing the petals to access nectar at the base of the flower.

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Asturias Mts, Spain, July 2011