Observations of the habitats of the Small Copper Butterfly

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Perseus
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Observations of the habitats of the Small Copper Butterfly

Postby Perseus » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:20 pm

Hello,

Small Copper Butterfly on the chalk downs above, Lancing, Shoreham &
Southwick, West Sussex. And in the levels of the lower Adur valley.


Small Copper
Lycaena phlaeas

http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species. ... l%20Copper

Foodplants


The main foodplants are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep's Sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) is also used.

Habitat


This butterfly favours open land where nectar sources and foodplant are found. Such habitats include grassland, wasteland, heathland, old quarries, embankments, road verges and woodland rides.

Ovum


Eggs are laid singly, usually on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant. The egg is white when first laid, gradually become grey before the larva emerges. This stage lasts approximately 6 days.

ADUR REPORTS

Reports of this butterfly are only occasional in the Adur valley and the surrounding downs. Fewer than 50 a year are recorded (cf. BAP species the Adonis Blue, 50 could be seen in 20 minutes).

Despite being small this butterfly is a strong flyer and can be found away from its food plants. The correlation is not always straightforward. The Small Copper is found on the yellow Fleabane more often than other plants. The Fleabane is found greatest numbers on the damper Adur Levels where there is alluvium over the chalk bedrock.

Common Sorrel
http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organic ... php?id=114

According to the text this plant is ubiquitous and found just about anywhere.

However, my observations indicate the sorrels (including other Rumex) and found in greatest numbers in meadows and on the verges of paths and roads. Although, unlikely to be absent on pastures, the plants appear to be eaten by cattle and I do not notice this plant on pastures. It is not prevalent (if found at all) on the upper meadows of Mill Hill for some reason, although it will be found on the edge of the road.

Small Copper

This butterfly is most likely to be found on the Lancing Ring meadows and on uncultivated waste ground on the Adur Levels and on the verges of Downs Link Cyclepath, and on the A27 road embankment as it carves its way from the chalk of north Shoreham. Isolates are found almost anywhere and it is recorded from Mill Hill in most years. It is not recorded regularly on pastures, if any at all. It has also been found visiting Ragwort on the wide verges of the paths to Southwick Hill, which are not grazed. Immigrant Small Copper butterflies probably occur.

Summary:

This butterfly favours wildlife meadows (but not managed hay meadows), but by observation, I would have thought that in horse pastures and conservation cattle pastures, occasional Small Copper Butterflies should occur, but the numbers locally are so low, that this has not been observed. Horse pastures contain lots of Dock and I would suspect that Sorrel survives as well. I am not sure if Horses eat this plant?

Another plant and butterfly that favours meadows over pastures. At least from limited observations in the chalk area near the lower Adur Valley.

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@hotmail.com
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2006.html
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2007.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: December 2007
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Dec2007.html

Adur Valley & Downs Gallery
http://www.flickr.com/groups/adur/pool/

View and upload your Sussex Wildlife Images to:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/sussexwildlife/

Button image for web sites linking Adur Nature Notes
http://www.smartgroups.com/pictures/ope ... ID=5944265
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User avatar
Perseus
Posts: 385
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:09 pm

Postby Perseus » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:28 pm

Hello,

Small Coppers were just a handful in 2007

http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2007.html

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@hotmail.com
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2006.html
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2007.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: December 2007
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Dec2007.html

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JKT
Posts: 564
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Postby JKT » Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:34 am

I quite agree. Here as well, the species favors habitats with a portion of open ground - preferably rock or gravel, but sand and dry clay will do as well. The common factor is that those places are relatively hot during daytime.

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Paul
Posts: 811
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: North Yorkshire

Postby Paul » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:24 pm

Near where I live there is a discrete colony of Small Coppers in a minor isolated moorland stream gully ~ 100 yds long. On successive years I have counted ~ 50 individuals patrolling the gully, with none on the surrounding moorland. It is certainly a sheltered and warm(ish) place with Sorrell++. The gully feeds a larger valley in which again I see none. I've not seen this distribution/ behaviour quoted elsewhere.... but it is a great place to get photos!!!

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