Callophrys rubi

Callophrys rubi

"...and the brambles had eyebrows!" Nowhere more far from a fairy tale: Callophrys Rubi (in our latitudes also known by the affectionate nickname of "green mullet") is frequently encountered in continental Europe, while camouflaging itself among the small green leaves of brambles.

When it spreads its edged wings, this butterfly seems to draw a sort of "glance", a feature that has earned it the name of "Callophrys", from the fusion of the Greek words "kalos" (beautiful) and "phrydi" (eyebrow). The specific name rubi, on the other hand, refers to Rubus (bramble), one of the caterpillars' feeding plants. This butterfly belonging to the Nymphalidae family never shows its brown upper side except when in flight. The green color of the underside is produced by the refraction and reflection of light by the scales on the wings. The iridescent coloration varies in hue depending on the directional qualities of the light and the angle of view. Thus, the butterfly may appear apple green, turquoise, or metallic emerald when viewed from different angles. The butterfly is widely distributed in Europe, from the Mediterranean islands to the far north of Norway and Sweden. It is also found in Morocco and Algeria and most of temperate Asia. It is common in dry heathlands and on shrub slopes facing south or in warm sheltered valley bottoms, mainly preferring habitats with hedges of hawthorn, blackthorn, bramble, elder or broom. The males are very territorial, in fact they squat on broom flowers, or on the foliage of hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, privet and various other bushes, often at the foot of the hills. On sunny mornings they use these perches as observation points from which they dart to intercept other small insects, including bees, flies and various species of butterflies. Oh, well… hard to tell they love company, isn’t it?

 

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