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


Small Desert Blue (Chilades galba), Larnaka, 0 m, June 2006. © Eddie John




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Butterflies of Cyprus - LYCAENIDAE
(Cont. 2)


Holly Blue (
Celastrina argiolus)
Common in the Troodos Mountains and, generally, in western Cyprus. No records are known from the eastern half of the island, or northern Cyprus. Principally on the wing June – August, but earlier and later records exist. See photograph left.

African Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra (knysna))
A very common, even abundant, butterfly in some locations in Cyprus. This small blue is often found at roadside verges where it congregates on dense mats of Polygonum equisetiforme. However, it is rather drab in colour so is not readily seen if numbers are low, as individuals can be difficult to follow in flight. Recorded in all months of the year, but mainly from late spring, building to larger numbers by late autumn. See photograph on left, and further comments under ‘Distinguishing characters of the Blues’, Page 3.7

Paphos Blue (
Glaucopsyche paphos)
Very common endemic species and the only member of this genus to be found in Cyprus. A univoltine species, but is on the wing from February to June in what appears to be a prolonged emergence. (The earliest record is 30 January by David Sparrow at a coastal location near Pafos, and I have seen the species on the wing at 1454 m in the Troodos Mountains in mid-June.) Not illustrated in Tolman & Lewington, but G. paphos may be identified by its similarity with the Green-underside Blue (Glaucopsyche alexis), a species not recorded in Cyprus, but with which it is often confused. See photograph below left, and further comments under ‘Distinguishing characters of the Blues’, Page 3.7. Another species with which the Paphos Blue is occasionally confused is the Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) found in Western Mediterranean countries.

Eastern Baton Blue (Pseudophilotes vicrama clara)
Another early-emerging species, with a flight period similar to the Paphos Blue, but much less commonly found. Tolman does not ascribe a common name to this species but Ahmet Koçak (2001) uses the vernacular name ‘Lesser Chequered Blue’. For the present, we have elected to use the name ‘Eastern Baton Blue’ due to its similarity with Pseudophilotes baton. Few records exist for this butterfly from northern Cyprus, so records are required, please. See photograph below left, and further comments under ‘Distinguishing characters of the Blues’, on Page 3.7.

Small Desert Blue (
Chilades / Luthrodes galba)

In sharp contrast to the north, few records are noted from the south for this small blue which often flies with the African Grass Blue - occasionally in large numbers in favourable locations. Indeed, it is very like Z. karsandra but completely lacks the black spots on the forewing underside and has three conspicuous discal spots, and two marginal ones, on the underside hindwings (see photographs of C. galba below left). June to October. (See also: ‘Distinguishing characters of the Blues’, on Page 3.7)


Grass Jewel (Freyeria / Chilades trochylus)

The Grass Jewel, Europe's smallest butterfly, is widely distributed in Cyprus. It emerges in March and is on the wing throughout most months of the year. However, its small size often results in it being overlooked (see photograph below left). Note that the marginal spots on the hindwing (present on the upperside and underside) are surrounded by orange; a characteristic which easily distinguishes the Grass Jewel from the African Grass Blue and Small Desert Blue. (See also: ‘Distinguishing characters of the Blues’, Page 3.7)

Grass Jewel (Chilades trochylus), Troodos Mts
1470 m, June 2006 © Eddie John

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African Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra), Akrotiri,
0 m, October 2001 © Christodoulos Makris

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Pera Pedi,
900 m, Sept 2008 © Yiannis Christofides

Paphos Blue, (Glaucopsyche paphos), male, Smigies, 260 m, April 1996 © Christodoulos Makris

Eastern Baton Blue, (Pseudophilotes vicrama) male, Akrotiri 0 m, March 2010
© Yiannis Christofides


Eastern Baton Blue, (Pseudophilotes vicrama) Karpasia 23 April 2014. © Eddie John

Small Desert Blue (Chilades galba), Mia Milia, 25 April, 2014. © Eddie John