Wednesday, 7 October 2015
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.