Coenonympha pamphilus (NL: Hooibeestje / EN: Small Heath / DE: Kleine Wiesenvögelchen, Kleiner Heufalter / FR: Fadet commun, Procris) is a butterfly species belonging to the family Nymphalidae, (subfamily Satyrinae, commonly known as "the Browns"). Despite its name, the Small Heath is not confined to heathland and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. The main distinguishing feature of this species is that this is the smallest of our 'browns' (Wingspan Male: 33mm - Female: 37mm) and is closer in size to a skipper, Common Blue or Brown Argus than its relatives, such as the Meadow Brown. However, its fluttering flight is quite different from that of the skippers and blues and is relatively-easy to identify in the field. This charming little butterfly always settles with its wings closed and angled at 90° to the sun, where the eye spot on the underside of the forewing is usually visible, acting as a decoy to any predator (see image). The forewings are tucked behind the hindwings when roosting for long periods, or in dull weather, the butterfly looking quite inconspicuous as the browns and greys of the underside of the hindwing blend in with their surroundings.
Image: Viroinval (BE) – 11/08/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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