Cyprus Butterflies by Eddie John F. L. S., F. R. E. S.

A Guide to the Butterflies of Cyprus,

Cyprus Butterfly Recording Scheme and

Cyprus Butterfly Study Group

Butterflies of Cyprus - NYMPHALIDAE

Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)

Occasional migrant butterfly to Cyprus, sometimes fairly common in the autumn of some ‘good’ years. Larvae have been found on Cynachum acutum in Cyprus, but have not been known to survive the winter (pers. comm. C. Makris). Adults have also been observed in spring, but far less commonly than in the autumn. See photograph on left.

Nettle-tree Butterfly (
Libythea celtis)
A very rare, localised and now protected species in Cyprus. Recent sightings were written up in John & Makris 2001 (see Bibliography), added to which there have been occasional sightings, but rarely more than one per year, with some years, e.g. 2008 and 2010 having no sightings reported. Celtis tournefortii is used as the larval host-plant (LHP) in Cyprus. The species is unrecorded from northern Cyprus. See photographs below left.

Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius)
This species is far less commonly encountered than in some western Mediterranean islands, e.g. Menorca. C. jasius may be found at almost any altitude between late spring and autumn. The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is rare in Cyprus but the related Eastern Strawberry Tree (A. andrachne), considered to be the LHP, is a common shrub of the Troodos Mountains. See photograph of C. jasius below left.

Southern White Admiral (
Limenitis reducta)
Fairly commonly found in light woodland in the mountains from May/June to early autumn. Generally well distributed throughout the Troodos Mountain range, but L.. reducta sightings from the Pentadaktylos range in northern Cyprus are less common. Indeed, this butterfly is only recorded from three 5 km squares in the north, compared with 40 in the south. More records are needed, please. See photograph of Limenitis reducta below left.

Large Tortoiseshell (
Nymphalis polychloros)
Almost certainly extinct in Cyprus. There have been no sightings for many decades, but the Large Tortoiseshell is present in Crete, Rhodes and Turkey (Olivier, 1993).

Painted Lady (
Vanessa cardui)
A common butterfly, recorded in all weeks of the year in Cyprus. Usually seen only in single numbers, but very occasionally present in vast numbers. In exceptional years, such as 2001, many millions were seen migrating north to Turkey - see John 2001. An estimated 42 million butterflies passed through Cyprus on an island-wide front during this migration. See photograph of Vanessa cardui below left.

Red Admiral (
Vanessa atalanta)
Generally, a fairly uncommon butterfly in Cyprus, though reports from the north suggest that it may be more frequently encountered there. Usually absent during the summer months, as the larval foodplants shrivel in the heat. See photograph of Vanessa atalanta below left.

Cardinal (
Argynnis pandora)
Present in small numbers at higher altitudes of the Troodos Mountains from June to late September. Only one record is known from northern Cyprus: sightings of a female Cardinal on two successive days in September 2006 by Daniel & Hilary Haines. See photographs of Argynnis pandora below.

(The Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia) is predicted as a possible species for Cyprus (Dennis et al. 2001).

Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta), Troodos Mts 1330 m, June 2006
© Eddie John

The strongly migratory Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). © Eddie John

Cardinal (Argynnis pandora), male, Platres, 1000 m, June 2010.
© Yiannis Christofides

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Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis), at mud, Troodos Mts 1330 m, June 2006
© Eddie John

Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius), Lefkara 600 m, September 1999 (see larva on right)
© Christodoulos Makris

Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) male, Akrotiri 0 m, November 1995
© Christodoulos Makris

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), on the larval foodplant Urtica urens, Athalassa, 200 m
February 1999.
© Christodoulos Makris

Cardinal (Argynnis pandora), female on Cirsium vulgare, Prodromos, 1400 m. August 1995.
© Christodoulos Makris

Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) photographed in Crete, November 2008
© Yiannis Christofides

Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis),
newly emerged female at rest.
© Eddie John

Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) larva on hostplant Arbutus unedo (photographed in Menorca). In Cyprus, the hostplant is the related Arbutus andrachne.
© Eddie John