Cyprus Butterflies

I visited the island of Cyprus in April 2000. The weather was unfortunately rather mixed. There were still some interesting butterflies on the wing, different to those further west in the Mediterranean. Bird life was diverse also, I know little about birds but I still recognised Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca), Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Bee Eater (Merops apiaster) amongst numerous others.

Butterfly information was supplied by Eddie John and Rob Parker who have both written articles on the Butterflies of the island, most recently in the Amateur Entomologists' Society publication (No 15) entitled "Butterflies of Cyprus 1998" by Eddie John. Eddie is keen to collect records of butterflies on Cyprus from any experienced visitors. You can email him here for further details. There is also a website run by Eddie, the address is as follows: http://www.grayling.dircon.co.uk/index.html

Cyprus.

I stayed in the west of the island, in the rather overdeveloped resort of Paphos (PAFOS). The red triangles indicate the areas mentioned below, and are linked to a species list for that area for the duration of my stay.

West Cyprus.

My Visit - April 2000

Kato Paphos is a tourist resort. However there are areas that are left undeveloped due to the ancient remains, tombs and mosaics. The area around the lighthouse is particularly extensive. There wasn't much flying, but the Little tiger blue, Tarucus balkanicus was a definite highlight. The Eastern bath white, Pontia edusa posed for a picture while a single Lesser fiery copper was seen, Lycaena thersamon.

Little tiger blue - Tarucus balkanicus Eastern bath white - Pontia edusa

Pigmy skipper - Gegenes pumilio Paphos blue - Glaucopsyche paphos  Eastern festoon - Zerynthia cerisyi

Further north along the coast, near to Coral Bay was a track up to a reservoir. Paphos blue, Glaucopsyche paphos were flying along the track in very large numbers. In particularly dry areas Pigmy skippers, Gegenes pumilio basked in the sunlight, often launching off only to return to the same spot. A single Eastern festoon, Zerynthia cerisyi was also seen.
The Akamas peninsular is a very special place, a large tract of land only accessible by 4 wheel drive (or on foot!). A couple of areas were visited with reasonable success. Species seen that have not been mentioned yet include Cyprus meadow brown, Maniola cypricola and Mallow skipper, Carcharodus alceae.

Cyprus meadow brown - Maniola cypricola Mallow skipper - Carcharodus alcaea

Eastern dappled white - Euchloe ausonia Cyprus grayling - Hipparchia pellucida Pseudophilotes vicrama

In the foothills towards the Troodos mountains from Paphos a couple of places were visited, see the map above. As well as more widespread species, for example the Eastern dappled white, Euchloe ausonia, a couple of different species were seen. The Cyprus grayling, Hipparchia pellucida is only found in a few places in the far east of Europe, but is quite widespread on Cyprus. Also a couple of Pseudophilotes vicrama were on the wing, but difficult to catch up with in the windy conditions.

Postscript: A short account from a visit at the start of June:

"It's particularly interesting that you visited Agios Nikolaos as purely by chance we found a absolutely brilliant butterfly site. I wonder if you recognise it - Just heading out of the village on the road to Troodos, about 50 yards after the village sign is a track to the right. There are various low bushes for 4 species of blue, grasses & thistles for skippers & meadow browns, etc.Honeysuckle in a small valley for Southern White Admiral and woodland just down the track with Cleopatra & African ringlets. There were also whites, clouded yellows, swallowtails, lattice browns, large wall browns and small coppers encountered - 19 species in all, within a radius of around 50 yards!! I would recommend this site to anyone visiting Cyprus with an interest in lepidoptera."

Steve Eckersley - S.Eckersley@tesco.net

Other Species

There are a total of 51 recorded butterflies on Cyprus, most of which I didn't see, follow this link for a full annotated list. Thanks to Eddie John for the list, which has been used in the A.E.S. publication mentioned above.

 
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All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.