Small Copper

Lycaena phlaeas


The Small Copper lives up to its name in both colour and size. Adults fly throughout the summer between April and October. Male Small Coppers are territorial and can be seen basking on bare ground or rock waiting for females, every now and again chasing off other insects that encroach on their space. Adults can be seen feeding on Ragwort and thistles, while the caterpillars feed on Common Sorrel and Sheep's Sorrel. Found in dry, sunny habitats, including heathland, woodland edges, waste ground and downland.

How to identify

Unmistakeable: the Small Copper has orange forewings with dark brown spots and margin, and dark brown hindwings, with a band of orange.

Where to find it

Found across the country, although scarcer in the north of Scotland.


When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Butterflies such as the Small Copper will happily visit your garden and are a joy to watch. To attract butterflies into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Small Copper
Latin name
Lycaena phlaeas
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 2.5-3.6cm
Conservation status