The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Levantine Leopard - Apharitis acamas

On the last day of our holiday in Cyprus I decided to walk along a dried-up stream bed not far from our rented villa in Pegia. I had hoped that there may be some different butterflies there that I hadn't seen so far. However, after about a kilometre I hadn't seen any butterflies and I was about to turn back when I saw a Cyprus Meadow Brown. This spurred me on to continue a little further along the stream bed.

A little further along the stream I saw a small butterfly in the distance behaving like a Long-tailed Blue. I climbed out of the stream bed to see if I could find it and I was amazed to see that the butterfly was a Levantine Leopard, Apharitis acamas.

This is a butterfly that I thought was so rare that I didn't stand any chance of seeing one! Every time it landed it closed its wings immediately. I could see when it was flying that the upper side of the wings was a yellow colour. The underside is a cream colour with brown stripes, each containing a line of silver scales. There are two tails on each hind wing, the larger of which has a blue patch that only shows when the sun hits it.

I had read that this butterfly is easily approached and does not scare easily, so I slowly reached out to one and coaxed it onto my finger. I couldn't believe how much the silver scales glinted as I turned it in the sunlight. Stupidly, I had picked it up on my right hand and I discovered that it is impossible to use my camera using my left hand!!

I was surprised that there were five Levantine Leopards in this one small area and I found two more 100 metres further up stream. This was a thrilling end to my butterfly hunting in Cyprus.

I saw 29 different species while I was there, with 13 of them being species that I hadn't seen before. I was surprised not to have seen any Brown Argus, Aricia agestis, or Painted Ladies, Vanessa cardui. The only butterfly that I was hoping to see that I didn't was the Southern White Admiral, Limenitis reducta, but I really can't complain having seen so many Lycaenidae that I had wanted to find.

I was delighted with what I had seen and I am very grateful to Eddie John for his help with good places to look for butterflies. His excellent web site can be found here.