Corfu Butterflies

May 10th-17th  2019

My holiday on the Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea was not to be an all out assault on seeing as many species of butterfly as I could in a week.  It was a chance to relax and enjoy our first proper vacation for many years.  That said I was allowed to photograph those that came our way 😁.  Unlike back home in the UK where I would travel to sites to see certain species out here it was fun to see what turned up.

One thing that I had to adjust to was that I was seeing butterflies over a month earlier than I would in Britain.  Even though Corfu had had a slightly wet and cool spring, to my eyes things were way ahead.  We had mostly very warm sunshine, just one and half days lost to heavy rain.

At first the species I saw were familiar to me from the UK.  These were the Large and Small Whites, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue, Small and Large Skippers.  Then I started to see those that I had wished for.  The nicest surprise was a beautiful female Southern White Admiral laying eggs on the honeysuckle screen by our pool.  Walking in the olive grove between our terrace and the sea 50yds away and I saw my first Glanville Fritillary.  In Britain this butterfly can only be found on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.  More  Glanvilles turned up on our walks up the mountain and in flatter areas.  Then there was the almost red in colour of the Spotted Fritillary, the large, bright orange Grecian Copper but a highlight was my first encounter with the huge Scarce Swallowtail as it floated around the mountain track.

Butterflies were seen almost everywhere and at the end of the week I had logged thirty species.  Not a bad total considering I was not even trying!

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius), With a wingspan of over 3 1/2 inches (86mm) not easily overlooked! More were seen at higher elevations above Nissaki than lower down. They have a lovely floating flight.
Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma). Can appear even darker in colour almost red. More were seen as the week progressed. Medium sized 2inch (50mm) wingspan.
Spotted Fritillary underwing.
Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta). This beauty was laying eggs on the honeysuckle by our pool!
Grecian Copper (Lycaena ottomana). This is a male that was fighting any others who intruded on his patch!
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). Even though I have them in my own garden I have not managed a better image. The first butterfly photographed on holiday.
Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia). A strikingly pale specimen they are normally an orangey brown.  Same size as the Spotted Frit.
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous). It took a long time before I got this close as it was forever chasing rivals in the olive grove by the villa.
Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon) also seen in the olive grove by the villa. In the UK restricted to the Dorset coast
Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra). Nectaring on lantana. Not a great shot but like it’s close relative the Brimstone hardly ever stops and then always with the wings closed. In flight the upperwing is deep yellow with orange patches on the forewing which is just showing through on this image.
The female Cleopatra is much paler and lacks the orange upperwing patches. The wings are smoother edged and not as hooked as a Brimstone.
Possibly Oberthur’s Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus). So many of these tiny Skippers look similar, I needed an underwing shot to be sure.  The wings are barely an inch (25mm) across.
Eastern Dappled White (Euchloe ausonia). A delightful little butterfly (wingspan 11/2- 2 inches 40-48mm) with underwing pattern like that of the Orange-tip.  The ones we saw preferred rough ground and roadside verges and only settled for a few seconds.
Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus). Normally seen speeding past, this one stopped for a quick re-fuel.  The sun really gleams off it’s wings.
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) a month earlier than in the UK.
White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album). A lucky find as there are very few records of this butterfly on Corfu. In the UK they would not be on the wing ’till July.

19 thoughts on “Corfu Butterflies

  1. Excellent photos! I’m very jealous as I’ve not seen that many this year yet – though spring is definitely here to stay now. πŸ™‚ I think I got a shot of a Spotted Fritillary last week, but I didn’t post it as I wasn’t sure and it was a bit ragged at the edges. We also get Glanvilles around here and I’ll have to try and capture one to post. But, you know butterflies, they find you, rather then you finding them. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wayne, after your stateside trip I think the bird life will disappoint! I may have missed the spring migration but the hunters had obviously been out. Lesvos would be a better bet. That said the butterflies were superb and if I was really going for it there were others to see.


  2. Some cracking photos there. We’ve just returned from Corfu, still a few butterfly species to see but not surprised that an earlier visit yields a lot more. Can I ask what photo equipment you used

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mike. Each season will have different species emerge and there were some I missed by a few weeks. I think mid May is a good general time and the weather is starting to settle down.
      My camera is a Nikon D5300 and the lens I favour is the Sigma 105 f2.8 macro with the Sigma 1.4x converter. If the butterflies are a little out of reach I will switch to my Tamron 70-300mm zoom but it doesn’t give the detail the macro can. Hope this of help.


      1. Yes, thanks for that. Reassuring that you’re also a Nikon user. Also I think we’ll have to return for a spring visit.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry, I don’t know your name, but checked the two blog posts as you suggested and it looks like you found an idyllic spot there.
        My wife and I had a Tui package job at a recommended small, family run hotel. We were very impressed with our stay and covered a lot of the island in our hire car. The autumn bulbs were very impressive e.g. Cyclamen, Colchicum etc .

        Liked by 1 person

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