Madeiran Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas phlaeoides (Staudinger, 1901)

Superfamily: Papilionoidea Family: Lycaenidae Status: Endemic to Madeira

Recommended tours to watch this butterfly

Laurel Forest Tour
Full-day birdwatching
Note: when booking any of these tours please state your interest in butterflies.


A small, orange butterfly though its main colours sometimes vary from brown to yellow. Both males and females have black spots on its forewings and hind-wings brown (darker on the upperside and light on the with orange submarginal band. Females wings are more rounded than males.

Lycaena phlaeas phlaeoides Caterpillars

The Madeiran subspecies of the Small Copper caterpillar is not known but based on its nominate form, it should be green with a woodlouse shape, covered by tiny white warty lumps, sometimes showing some pink stripes when fully grown.

Host & Food Plants

It has been seen laying eggs on Rumex maderensis, an endemic Polygonaceae (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006). It is not known on which plants Lycaena phlaeas phlaeoides feeds but as its nominate species, it should like other Rumex species.

Habitat & behaviour

This butterfly species is adapted to most habitat types, from farmed areas to Laurel Forest.
At first glance can look like a moth when flying due to its small size.

Distribution in Atlantic Islands of Macaronesia:

Occurs in Madeira and Porto Santo Islands (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006)


Regional status according to Aguiar & Karsholt, 2008: Endemic to Madeira & Porto Santo
Regional status according to Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006: Endemic to Madeira & Porto Santo
Regional status according to Wakeham-Dawson et al., 2001: Widespread but not generally common
Status according to the European Red List of Butterflies, 2010: Least Concerned

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