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

Previous Family

Butterflies of Cyprus - HESPERIIDAE

Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae)
The Mallow Skipper, the earliest of the Skippers to emerge in Cyprus, has been recorded in all months of the year. It sometimes flies with others of its species, though it is usually found singly (see photograph left).

Lulworth Skipper (
Thymelicus acteon)
Occasionally abundant, the Lulworth Skipper emerges in April and remains on the wing until late June. It has just one brood, so has the most restricted flight period of the four Skippers found in Cyprus (see photograph below left).
(No records of the Essex Skipper [T. lineola] or Small Skipper [T. sylvestris] are known from Cyprus.)

Pigmy Skipper (Gegenes pumilio)
Widely distributed but rarely seen in numbers. On the wing from late March to the end of November displaying its typically rapid, darting flight - often over the hottest of tracks (see photograph below left).
(N.B. The Mediterranean Skipper [G. nostrodamus] is not confirmed for Cyprus, but evidence is building. Specimens of possible nostrodamus are required for genitalic examination, please.)

Millet Skipper (Pelopidas thrax)
A migrant, now breeding in Cyprus, which sometimes shares the same habitat as the Pigmy Skipper. However, the Millet Skipper is larger and is also identified by the much brighter markings on the forewing uppersides and hindwing undersides. On the wing from May into the autumn (see photograph of Pelopidas thrax below left).

(The Orbed Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia orbifer) is predicted as a possible species for Cyprus (Dennis et al. 2001.) Coastal records from southern Turkey (Hesselbarth et al. 1995) support this prediction.


The proximity of Cyprus to Turkey (to the north), Syria, Lebanon and Israel (to the east) and Egypt (to the south) provides the likelihood of other migrant species occasionally reaching the island. The African Migrant (Catopsilia florella) and the Pomegranate Hairstreak/Playboy (Deudorix livia) are examples of two species which have been found in Cyprus for the first time in recent years.

Additionally, it is surprising that neither the Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) nor the Southern Comma (Polygonia egea) have been recorded in Cyprus. However, to date, no records exist for these species though there are occasional, unsubstantiated, Cypriot website references to the presence of the Scarce Swallowtail. These are probably replicated from a single, inaccurate report, as enquiries for further information have met with no response. As with various other species referred to earlier, both I. podalirius and P. egea are known from the southern coast of Turkey (Hesselbarth et al. 1995), so their presence in Cyprus would not be unexpected.

Other, doubtful species
Various other species were recorded from Cyprus in the earlier days of the island’s entomological history. These doubtful species were detailed by Rob Parker in his 1983 paper ‘The Butterflies of Cyprus’, wherein he provides sound reasons why most, if not all records, should probably be regarded as erroneous. However, both Catopsilia florella and Deudorix livia, referred to above, are only confirmed as migrant species to Cyprus because they were collected at the time - in the case of the latter species, only a single, known, specimen exists in Cyprus.

The message is an unequivocal: ‘Expect the unexpected!’

Millet Skipper (Pelopidas thrax)
May 2007 © Eddie John

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Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae),
Malia 600 m, May 2007. © Eddie John

Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon), on Onopordum cyprium. T. acteon is often gregarious and may be very common in May / early June. June 2003. © Eddie John

Pigmy Skipper (Gegenes pumilio)
Malia 600 m, May 2007. © Eddie John

Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon) 23 April 2013. © Eddie John