kcf32's picture

Small Copper

Observed: 6th August 2009 By: kcf32
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course completeShropshire Wildlife Trust
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Copper (06-08-2009)

Small copper butterfly resting on some ragwort.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) interacts


Bredon's picture

Do Small Coppers Like Ragwort

My Small Copper ispot post was also of one on Ragwort. Does something actually enjoy this plant?

Martin Harvey's picture


Lots of things enjoy and/or need Ragwort! It's an important nectar source for Small Copper and many other insects, and quite a lot of things feed on it, including some rare species and the declining Cinnabar Moth (still widespread but now listed as a Biodiversity Action Plan species due to its decline).

Ragwort can cause problems for grazing animals if it is in the wrong place, but away from grazing fields it's an important species. For further info see the Buglife website:

Entomologist and biological recorder

greenman's picture


My understanding is that most grazing animals will avoid ragwort whilst its growing but that the problem arises if it gets mixed up in dried fodder crops.
Unfortunately it seems to have had a particularly bad press over the last couple of years, which I'm sure has led to a lot of unnecessary clearing with little regard for the wildlife that depends upon it, particularly cinnabar moth caterpillars. I've even been informed by an over-officious neighbour that I'm required by law to remove the ragwort from my garden - complete tosh, but I fear symptomatic of the widespread misinformation that's doing the rounds.
Fortunately we still have some local sites where it's quite prevalent, at one of which I counted over 300 cinnabar moth caterpillars in half an hour during the summer.