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.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Malaga, Spain - Butterflies - July 2016

From the 1st to 15th July this year we had our annual family holiday in a villa 45 kilometres north west of Malaga. This is the third time we have holidayed there, coincidentally being there for exactly the same dates in 2012 and 2014 previously.

The holiday went off to a really good start, with me seeing a Small White, Pieris rapae, as we were driving out of the airport and then a Plain Tiger, Danaus chrysippus, flew across the road in front of us.

There is an area that I tend to walk to each day to look for butterflies just a little way up the road from the villa we rent. Over the previous two years I have learned that this is the best local spot to find them. Probably the most common butterfly there is the Southern Gatekeeper, Pyronia cecilia, although they weren't as numerous as the first year we visited.

Dusky Heaths, Coenonympha dorus, are beautiful little butterflies with the line of silver scales along the edge or their wings. They always seem to be flying around this area.

The track turns into a feint path that climbs along the ridge of the hills through olive groves. On the exposed parts of the path male Wall Browns, Lasiommata megera, take up territory, chasing after any other butterflies or large insect they see.

Common Blues, Polyommatus celina, were the other butterfly that could be relied upon to be there each day. They seem very much smaller than those that I see back home. I wasn't sure if I was just imagining this, but I also remember when I saw a Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, how much bigger it looked than the Common Blue. The two species are more-or-less the same size back home.

I only saw a Small Copper once this year. It seems to be a very widely distributed butterfly, but it's never seen in great numbers.

I was delighted to see a Striped Grayling, Pseudotergumia fidia, on the first day I walked up the path. It was there again in exactly the same place the second day too, but I didn't see it after that. Two years earlier I saw a lot of them in the next valley, but have never seen them at this spot before.

Mallow Skippers, Carcharodus alceae, seemed to have small territories along the road to the villa chasing after anything that flew anywhere near them.

Up the track, on the wild Thyme, Sage Skippers, Syrinthus proto, were doing the same thing.

On a couple of occasions I saw a Mediterranean Skipper, Gegenes nostrodamus. I saw this species very briefly for the first time two years ago.

Other butterflies that I saw occasionally were Clouded Yellow, Colias crocea,
... and Bath White, Pontia daplidice.

The Southern Brown Argus, Aricia cramera, is a beautiful little butterfly, which I regularly saw flying among the wild flowers.

I'll continue with the other butterflies I saw in my next post.


  1. a lovely collection of little flying beauties.
    thank you for sharing your finds with us.

    1. Thanks Tammie Lee, I have just noticed that they are mostly brown! I did see some more colourful ones later in the holiday!

    2. Colorful ones do get our attention, but these are all just as beautiful, I think.

    3. I agree, Tammie Lee. Some of my favourite butterflies are the less flamboyant ones! Digital photography offers great views of the details of small butterflies which are not obvious to the naked eye, but to me are just as beautiful as the more colourful ones.

  2. These are awesome images. I was never able to photograph a Copper nor Sulfur butterfly. They are just too quick. The trip to Spain really paid off. How do you know where to find them? I suppose the Mediterranean is the best climate. Tropical climates are too hot for them, and subtropical at least is a bit better.

    1. Thank you Maria, They can be very quick, particularly in hotter weather. I just try not to move too quickly and let the butterflies behave as if I wasn't there. In the summer in southern Spain much of the vegetation is dried out, so the butterflies are mostly up in the mountains or down by the coast. Having been to the same area a few times I have learned of good places to go and look for them.

  3. Hello Nick!:) Thank you for your visit. Dental problems have kept me from visiting, but I'm on the better side now. You got some beautiful captures. I love the Striped Grayling, and Dusky Heath, they are so pretty, and the Bath White is one of my favourites, and it's amazing how many Skippers you were able to find. There are a number of brown butterflies flying around over here and also Small Whites, but sadly they will soon disappear, now that the cooler weather has arrived. Best Regards.

    1. Sonjia, I am glad that you are getting over your dental issues. That can be no fun! It is good to hear that there are still butterflies flying there. I haven't seen one for the last two weeks, although I am still receiving the odd record of Red Admirals or Speckled Woods. They can't last much longer, though!