Lycaena thersamon 27th September 2021. Mandria. Paphos. Cyprus. This is an uncommon and local butterfly of eastern Europe. I spotted this example in flight at a coastal location in western Cyprus, and it led me on a merry chase for around a minute before finally alighting and allowing me to get a photograph, confirming that this was indeed a female, showing the characteristic tails of the later broods. It is the only example of this species that I have ever seen, one of seven "life ticks" obtained during a memorable week in the hot and dry late Cypriot summer.
Pelopidas thrax 28th September 2021. Akrotiri Marsh. Cyprus. The European range of this large, fast skipper is confined to the eastern Aegean islands and Cyprus. We found it in small numbers around the edges of reed beds, where it seemed reluctant to stay still, but this individual finally allowed me some close-up views, showing off its characteristic wing-spots and hooked antennal tips.
Freyeria trochylus 29th September 2021. Xyliatos. Cyprus. This is said to be Europe's smallest butterfly, and is supposedly very easy to overlook or mistake for a small day-flying moth or fly. I have searched for it in several parts of Greece for a number of years without success, and it seemed for a while that my bad luck was going to continue during a three hour wander in a "known" hot-spot for this species in the Troodos mountains in Cyprus. But I don't give up easily, and my eye was finally drawn to a tiny butterfly flitting along a roadside verge. I chased after it, and held my breath as it landed in front on me! It was so small that I had trouble finding it through my camera's viewfinder, but as I homed in and focused, there it was, the delightfully gorgeous Grass Jewel, my first ever sighting and a hugely exciting and quite emotional moment. It had been a long time coming!
Dark Grass Blue
Zizeeria karsandra 1st October 2021. Paphos area. Cyprus. We saw more Dark Grass Blues than any other butterfly during our week in Cyprus. They were pretty ubiquitous along the coast, with occasional examples turning up further inland. Small but lively, and seemingly unbothered by the arid conditions, this is another butterfly that probably gets overlooked by casual observers due to its diminutive size.
Cyprus Meadow Brown
Maniola cypricola 30th September 2021. Avakas gorge. Cyprus. There are several endemic butterfly species on Cyprus, this being one of them. The Cyprus Meadow Brown is apparently common and widespread on the island, although it is said to retreat to the damper mountainous areas during the heat of summer, before returning to lower altitudes in the autumn. We only saw it in three locations; several were flying near Xyliatos up in the Troodos, and a few were seen in the Avakas gorge and near the Mavrokolympos Dam. All examples were females, and most were quite worn.
Hipparchia cypriensis 29th September 2021. Xyliatos. Cyprus. Another common Cypriot endemic that follows a similar pattern to the previous butterfly in disappearing from lower altitudes during the heat of the summer. The only Cyprus Graylings that we saw were up in the Troodos mountains near Xyliatos, where they weren't uncommon along roadsides and shadier, damper wooded areas near the Xyliatos reservoir.
Ypthema asterope 1st October 2021. Mavrokolympos Dam. Cyprus. This is another butterfly that only just makes it into Europe, being commonest in Africa and further east. Localised in the Eastern Aegean and on Cyprus, the African Ringlet is a butterfly of arid, sparse habitat. It is quite unlike any other member of the "Brown" butterflies that I have ever seen! It appears almost silvery in flight, and resembles a skipper or a blue when on the wing. My experience was that it is also very difficult to photograph, rarely settling, and only briefly showing its upper-side in a series of two rapid ,successive flashes as it lands. A fascinating insect!
View from Xyliatos Dam
Troodos mountains Home to Cyprus Grayling, Cyprus Meadow Brown and Grass Jewel.
Habitat of African Ringlet
Mavrokolympos Dam Home to African Ringlet and Dark Grass Blue.