Rare butterfly species spotted in Wuhan
Published: May 03, 2023 10:58 PM
Lycaena phlaeas, the small copper, American copper, or common copper Photo: VCG

Lycaena phlaeas Photo: VCG

Surveyors have sighted a rare species of butterfly listed on the China Species Red List in the Donghu Wetlands in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, which was revealed recently. 

The butterfly's scientific name is Lycaena phlaeas, while in Chinese it is known as the Red Grey Butterfly. 

It is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 3.5 centimeters and belongs to the Lycaenidae family of the Lepidoptera order.

Males have a wingspan of 26-36 millimeters, while females have a wingspan of 30-40 millimeters, according to the surveyors. 

The forewings have orange-red markings with brown-black edges and spots, while the hindwings are darker with flame-like bands on the edges.

The butterfly was seen in Yujia Lake in the Donghu Scenic Area of Wuhan, where the abundant wild plants and suitable ecological and climatic conditions provide an excellent habitat and breeding ground for the small insect, experts said. This area is outside its usual habitat.

Wu Gang, the associate professor at Huazhong Agricultural University who was in charge of the survey, said these butterflies are cold-blooded animals and are very sensitive to temperature changes, so its appearance has been considered an indicator for monitoring climate change. 

Climate change has posed a great threat to the survival of butterflies, as their habitats and breeding grounds have been greatly reduced.

The China Species Red List, also known as the Red List of China's Biodiversity, is a comprehensive inventory of endangered and threatened species in China.

The list includes various taxonomic groups, such as butterflies, birds, reptiles, fish, fungi and trees. 

Species are classified into categories ranging from "extinct" to "least concern" based on their conservation status and the level of threat they face from habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution and climate change.