Culture

Spotting the Small Copper Butterfly

It may not seem like it on many a day weather wise but we are just a few weeks away from midsummer.

Increasing numbers of bees are buzzing about and some butterflies are emerging and joining them.

Small Copper  butterfly  Crd Mairi McIntosh

Small Copper butterfly Credit: Mairi McIntosh

The Small Copper butterfly appears to be struggling, with numbers in Scotland falling by a third in the last ten years.

The wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is asking people in Scotland to keep an eye out for the small but brightly-coloured butterfly, the Small Copper.  Recording the sightings from members of the public is important in helping researchers find out what’s happening to this beautiful butterfly.

You can record your sightings here –  Link: Scottish Small Copper Survey

Project Officer Anthony McCluskey said:

‘Small Coppers are delightful little butterflies, and their declines in Scotland are a great concern for us.

“Finding out more about where they are can help us to conserve them.

“Observing wildlife is known to have a wide range of mental health benefits. This can be a mindful activity during these uncertain times and one which will help contribute to scientific research too.’

The butterfly can be seen in gardens and parks, and also found along paths and cycle routes so it may be seen on daily exercise outings.

The charity is urging people to respect Government advice on social distancing by only recording the butterfly if they happen to find it as they take their normal exercise, and not to travel anywhere to find it.

Small Copper  butterfly Credit Mark Searle

Small Copper butterfly Credit Mark Searle

Small Coppers can often be seen basking in sheltered sunny places, especially where there is some bare ground. Their caterpillars feed on wild sorrels, which are the smaller relatives of the Docks that people use to relieve nettle stings. With their wings open they are a little larger than a 50p coin, but they are easily overlooked as they are rarely seen in large numbers. The upper sides of the wings have distinctive bright orange and black markings.

Depending on the spring weather the butterfly can emerge in Scotland between the middle of April and middle of June, disappearing until late summer, when a second brood emerges.

This survey is being supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through the Helping Hands for Butterflies Project.

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