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.

15 comments:

  1. Hello Nick!:) What a beauty! My goodness it is a pretty little thing. Wonderful find Nick.

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    1. Thanks Sonjia,
      It is an amazing little butterfly. I have never seen anything like it. I was very lucky to see it.

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  2. What a gorgeous butterfly and colors! I love those brownish-orange calixes.

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    1. It is an amazing little butterfly, quite unlike anything else I have seen.

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  3. Hello Nick, a new set-up for your page ha! I miss chasing butterflies, and i miss a lot of them in our property. In the past i can still venture on some wild areas beyond ours. When i already had hoyas, the Sat afternoon to Sunday morning is not enough to tend the hoyas, plant new ones, make propagations, untangle the embracing stems, etc. I see butterflies around but unless they come to the hoyas they go unnoticed. The very few ones i shoot i post also to our group site Philippine Lepidoptera. If you come over to our country for a visit i will personally join you for a butterfly photowalk, hahaha!

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    1. Andrea, I think that chasing butterflies is a luxury that can really only be enjoyed when you have plenty of time to do so. We have had a lot going on in our lives this year, so I haven't had as much time as I would have liked. We would love to visit the Philippines one day. The butterflies there look amazing. You could show me the good places to look for them!! I hope you are surviving the horrible weather we have been hearing about.

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    2. Thanks for the positive thoughts Nick. Fortunately, I in the city and my family in the province are not exposed much to the horrible weather: floods, winds, landslides, volcanoes, etc. Butterflies here are everywhere, my site is normally just around our house in the province. I have a few photos now from last weekend but i cannot open my FB account, it takes forever but still it doesn't open.

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  4. Many thanks for your kind thoughts, Nick.
    What a great catch, this Levantine leopard.
    It must be adrenaline to see such a rare beauty.
    Enjoy your sunday

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    1. Hi Noushka, I appreciate your comment. This was an amazing butterfly for me to see. I have never seen anything like it before and I never imagined I would see one in Cyprus.

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  5. An excellent collection of photos of this little beauty.

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    1. Thanks Peter, I have enjoyed looking at your various blogs. I will spend more time looking at them when I get some time.

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  6. Nick! I think this is the first time I've looked at your blog in almost a year.... national exam year! (It's always exams with me ><) It was incredible to read all the posts that I missed out on.

    This butterfly is really beautiful. Congrats on finding a whole colony! All the shots are lovely and it must have been great to have them on your finger.

    The genus Apharitis is very interesting, with members found all over the world - and 2 in Singapore! I think Cigaritis is now used as the genus name for the African and European species and Spindasis is used for the Asian ones.

    Both the Singaporean species are in this post, and you can see the resemblance with the Levantine Leopard. :)

    http://nypsbluebottle.blogspot.sg/2012/08/hot-morning-at-eco-green.html

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you find when spring comes!! Any chance of you coming to Singapore? :)

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    1. Hi Jonny,
      Welcome back! I hope your exams went well. Is that your exams finished for a while?
      I thought I had seen similar butterflies on your blog or on Butterfly Circle. It is probably the most exotic butterfly I have seen and I didn't really believe I would see one in Cyprus!
      I have just had a look at those that you get in Singapore and they are very similar. Such amazing butterflies with the silver scales on their wings.
      Yes, I am looking forward to spring already. It is sad to think that I won't see any butterflies for the next four months. I will have to see if I can find any hibernating Tortoiseshells to keep me occupied!
      I would love to go to Singapore. I was reading the post on the Butterfly Circle blog about the new edition of the butterfly book. I can't imagine what it must be like having over 300 species in an area not much bigger than the county where I live, where we only have 25 species! It is on my bucket list!

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    2. Hi Nick, yes, I'm done with secondary education so I'm free from school and exams and such for a while! I think a tropical place would good place to visit during the winter months, since its monsoon season and the forests are generally in better shape. And, it would be amazing to meet you one day.

      Anyway, I'll keep looking forward to whatever you uncover. :)

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    3. Great. I hope you manage to get out to look for butterflies again soon. I look forward to reading about what you see. I would certainly love to visit Singapore one day. Yes, we would definitely have to meet up and go butterfly hunting!

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