When i was walking home from Juan Les Pins yesterday i saw several butterflies perched on some plants in one of the municipal planters.
They flew away initially but returned when i stood motionless for a couple of minutes. I think there were 6 or 7 butterflies at a time - they were quite small butterflies and obviously not very noticeable to most people as i was attracting a certain amount of attention from people when photographing them.
Several passerby made sarcastic comments about the nondescript flowers in the planter - as they obviously couldn't see what i was actually photographing.
In this photo there are actually there butterflies - two on the flower and one blurred in the background.
The next two photos show two different butterflies in profile and i suspect the top one is female- its also got somewhat tattered wings- it has maybe escaped capture by a bird but lost a piece of wing in the process.
This one i think is male - it was a lot darker than the other one -and markings of the wings is more distinct.
I was a bit puzzled by this butterfly at first - I initially thought it could be a brown argus on first glance before i saw it close up. Then I noticed the hairstreak-like tails and its very different underwing patterns so that suggestion was out.
After a bit of research it turns out that its a Geranium Bronze butterfly, Cacyreus marshalli.
The Geranium Bronze is native to South Africa and has been introduced to Europe via the island of Majorca and it has now become established in the some of the countries round the Mediterranean. It was initially a passenger on culivated Pellargonium sp. the flowers colloquially known as Geraniums - hence the name.
The caterpillars have turned out to be a pest causing a lot of damage to cultivated plants although some commentators are suggesting that the fact that they seem very dependant on Pellargonium plants is a good thing, as they would do a lot more damage if thay were less fussy.
In South America these caterpillars do less damage as they have local predators that keep the numbers down and apparently fewer predators in Europe. Some have even been seen as far north as England.
It seems somewhat ominous that these were spotted on a very different plant from the cultivated geranium and in fact geraniums were very close by, but completely ignored by these butterflies.