Small copper

Like a small jewel on a rock

Photo by Marianne Saviaho

Pikkukultasiipi (Lycaena phlaeas)

What was that small, fast thing with flashing orange wings? If you saw it in a rocky meadow or in some other dry and warm spot, it was probably a small copper.

When a small copper lands on a rock, it may be hard to see, as it often closes its wings and you can mostly just see their grey under surface. However, when the butterfly spreads its wings, the viewer can admire the shiny orange patches on them. Some individuals also have a row of blue dots on the outer part of their hindwings.

Untypically for coppers, both sexes of the small coppers are just as beautiful – in most copper species, the females have more brown colour on their wings than the males. The small copper is a modest butterfly: it only needs some sun, a few flowers for the butterfly and some red sorrel, Rumex acetosella, for its larva. There are plenty of such habitats in the archipelago in front of Helsinki. This butterfly is not a rare southern species, as it has spread all the way to the fells in Lapland and even to Greenland.