Endangered Serbian Butterflies – setting up the tools for conservation

This page is dedicated to the project on research and protection of endangered butterflies of Serbia. The project is lead by Miloš Popović, and financially supported by The Rufford Small Grants Foundation. See the bottom of the page for list of people and organizations that contributed the most to the project.

Project summary

Our members photographing th Violet Copper (Lycaena helle), endangered and relict butterfly from Stara planina

Our previous RSG project was a great success, 1) resulting in a discovery of three new butterflies for Serbia and 2) in establishing network of people working on a butterfly database, research and conservation. A total of 198 butterflies are now known to live in Serbia, but this is still regarded as one of the most understudied countries in the region. Rapid changes in agriculture, people settlements and economy may cause unpredicted loss of butterfly diversity.

The ultimate aim of the project is to make a joint effort in mapping and monitoring butterflies of Serbia. A few trainings, mini grants and joint field surveys should help the community grow during the project. At the same time, we would like to support our contributors by making the insect database available online. This will help in tedious work on butterfly mapping, and provide tools to update national red list of butterfly species and compile atlas of Serbian butterflies in the future. We hope that the improvements of red list status will result in changes to butterfly conservation priorities, and help to conserve most valuable habitats and species.

The monitoring of our most threatened butterflies (Boloria eunomia, Lycaena helle and Phengaris teleius) will continue during this project. At the end, the reports will be sent to the government and communicated to the general public. Mapping of understudied regions will also go on and cover even larger territory of the country, with a help of many volunteers.

Finally, there are video films, texts, posts, info panels and brochures to tell our story to the people. I hope that all of us can learn from each other and help in raising public awareness about butterflies, the fragile indicators of harmed ecosystems. And there is still a lot of space for new ideas! Just contact us if you like to help me and my team.


Granting butterfly field surveys has started

We invite all of our members to send reports about recorded species near their homes and made small grants available to cover up the field trip expences. This way we hope to help our members enjoy watching butterflies in nature and at the same time to boost our knowledge of Serbian butterflies and improve their conservation. The only obligation is filled up formular, which can be downloaded from our web site (in Serbian language). The project team wish you a happy butterfly "hunting"!

Field trip to Homolje Mt.

We made our first field trip this year to Homolje Mt. Short text describing our field adventures is written by Miroslav Miljević and can be found on this link (in Serbian).

First field trips to the south of the counrty

We started the first field surveys in the middle of May. Our aim was to visit the areas in the south-eastern Serbia, including Preševo, where Аntocharis gruneri, a new butterfly species for Serbia was recorded two years ago found. We also visited the southern slopes of Stara Planina mountain, localities near Pirot, Bujanovac, Rujan and the valley Pčinja river. We joined ornithological field trip with colleagues from the Biological Society "Dr Sava Petrović" close to Pirot city and help them study insects of this area. Due to the heavy rains in Serbia in the first half of May, the number of butterflies was reduced and many spring species had short flight period. Among others, the most interesting species recorded were: Muschampia cribrellum, Zerynthia cerisy, Pyrgus sidae, Pyrgus serratulae, Melitaea arduinna and a single Euchloe ausonia at the foothill of Rujan mountain. Particularly interesting finding in the Pčinja valley was a grasshopper: Anacridium aegyptium (Linnaeus, 1764), a species unknown for Serbia until now.

Seminar on Kosmaj Mt.

During May 22-25, Kosmaj mountain near Belgrade hosted our small entomological meeting. Main topics covered up planning and organising of field surveys in the next period and discussing and making necessary preparations for puting our butterfly database on web. The meeting was also attended by our new members, and we organized the training for them to recognise butterflies and share their records into the database. We hope that this small group of new volunteers will help us by sending reports on recorded butterfly species. One part of the seminar was dedicated for daily trips in the surrounding area, learning field survey methodology, photographing butterflies and other insects. Of course, such a meeting could not pass without "entomological couldron" (ie. the pot for food), which has become a tradition.

Life cycle of the Scarce Large Blue. Illustration: Aleksandar Popović.

New logo for our project

Illistrations for the project are finished. They represent recently discovered Scarce Large Blue (Phengaris teleius) butterfly in Vojvodina. As the wetland dissapear from our country, this butterfly is more and more threatened. For this reason, we dedicate 2014 to the Scarce Large Blue. Author of the illustration is once again my father, Aleksandar Popović.

Surveys on Stara Planina Mt.

The search for Violet Copper (Lycaena helle) was unsuccesfull this year due to long rainy period in May and June. However, we now know that Violet Copper inhabits the slopes from Ponor and Stražna čuka all the way to Kopren. We suppose that the butterfly is also present between Tri čuke and Vražja glava, but this remains to be proven in the years to come. Spinose Skipper near Basara on Vidlič Mt. was another interesting finding spreading the distribution of this species to the major (calcareous) mountain chains of southern Stara Planina.

We would like to thank JP Srbijašume and Darko Đorđević for helping our field studies.

Spinose Skipper (Muschampia cribrellum)
Violet Copper (Lycaena helle)

Syrveys on the very south and a new butterfly for Serbian fauna

Sandy Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cinarae)

We are glad that during the secound survey in southern Serbia a new butterfly species is recorded to live here. It is the Sandy Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cinarae) which was known from the neighbouring Macedonia and Bulgaria. A number of species living in Serbia is now 199! ...waiting for just a single one to reach 200 :) Our small team would like to thenk Ortodox eparchy of Vranje for all the help they provided during our stay in Pčinja valley..

Seminar and field surveys in Temska village

We made another small training and seminar for people involved in butterflies in the beginning of Jully. It was held in Temska village, in the foothils of Stara planina Mt, during a traditional camp for students of biology. Aside unforgetable mountain climbings in order to reach some interesting butterflies at the roof of Serbia, we were also focused on lectures and presentation of our insect database. Some of our members had a unique chance to discover new, unthreatened habitat of Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia) just abowe Midžor (the highest peak of Serbia). As the other habitats were recently more or less destructed, we hope that this discovery will help to preserve the remaining pristine habitat of this interesting butterfly.

Drowing: Dimitrija Savić

You can see our fellowship working on a camp on the drowing abowe. This image was prepared by Dimitrija from biological society "Dr Sava Petrović".

Seminar in Vršac

Thanks to our friends from organisations Gea and Protego, the people of Vršac had a chance to hear some words on our project. This city was a host of a small seminar on species of importance for Natura 2000 areas in Europe. Aside a series of discussions and lectures, we had a chance to take a walk on Vršac Mt., an oasis of nature inside of Vojvodina flatlands. Our presentation from this seminar is free for download in PDF format (in Serbian). The result of the project and cooperation is a small book with most significant species in European Union. It is available for download (in Serbian) on Protego web site.

Population ecology of the Scarce Large Blue

This year we made a summer camp on Ludaš lake, financially supported by Butterfly Conservation Europe and helped by Riparia and Public Enterprize „Palić-Ludaš“. The camp lasted from July 15 to August 28, and during this period 4-8 people were working in the field, studing butterflies. We marked over 4000 individual butterflies aiming to see how large is the Serbian population of the Scarce Large Blue and to check it the small local populations are interconnected or isolated. We hope this work to help in conserving this endangered species in Serbia.

Aside field work, a small trainings were made for our members to get familiar with basic GIS tools (GPS, QGIS) ant with population size estimations using mark-release-recapture study (in MARK software). At the end we had a nice entertainment trying to setup a few experiments in the field... However, all of them ended unsuccesfully. But at least we have one new experiance! :)

Great thanks to Martina (Croatia) and Rudi (Slovenia) for their help during the field studies and to the workers of "Palić-Ludaš": Oto, Sandra, Vesna, Bence, Krištof and Sebastian.

Field work on Tara Mt.

Tara is one of the most beautifull mountains in Serbia and a place you would like to visit many times. The weather conditions in 2014 were not great, but we still managed to see it once in August 13-16. Although our stay there was short, we enjoyed beauty of the mountain and visited many diverse and impressive terrains.

As for the butterflies, a total list ended up with 60 species and among them the most interesting and rare ones: Coenonympha orientalis, Hipparchia statilinus and Aricia anteros. (Photos and text: Miroslav Miljević)

Surveys on Đerdap

National Park Đerdap is one of a few atractive localities that were not yet visited. However, this year we finally managet to arange two short visits as a part of the herpetological studies and to compare the richness of reptiles and butterflies. In the mean time a few empty UTM fields from the map started to fill in with a new data.

Promoting the Scarce Large Blue

Share the knowledge on the Scarce Large Blue! You may download a small brochure on this species in PDF format (bilingual). And if you are on the way to Subotica, don’t miss the chance to in visitors centre on Ludaš lake, take a look on new informational boards on the Scarce Large Blue and go for a walk with the managers of this protesced area to the wet meadows where the butterflu lives.

Data and the database

Since recently you can take a look at our database of butterflies over the internet! This system gives you a simple input form for the data and a basic overview on the distribution and ecology of insects in Serbia. Take a look by yourself and join the list of our contributors.

So far our project gave more than fifty grants ang got 42 field reports. We are greatly thankfull to all the people who joined mapping of butterflies this year. You helped us to break the record and gather the most of field observations since the database exists! With all of the missing reports, we expect to have more than 9000 inputs just for the butterflies. You can take a look at the graph to see the current trend on butterfly records.

A book on butterflies of Stara Planina

One more publication just camo out of print published by the Public Entherprise „Srbijašume“ in cooperation with HabiProt. Many years of field work is turned into a bilingual book (Serbian, English) showing all 166 butterfly species ever recorded on Stara Planina in Serbia. Along with a short species description there is a single photo, but also a detailed map showing old and new butterfly observations. Thus we hope that the book will be interesting for scientists, but also for tourists that are coming to this mountain in recent years.

A new seasson is here!

Our database captures new butterfly observations! In February we already had eight butterfly species. In March this number rised to 19 (a total of 125 observations) and in the mid of April to 37 (561 observations). However, the most interesting news is that number of contributors has increased! The data is provided by 34 authors and a majority of them is already registered on the web and sends us data and photos on regular basis. All in all, this is a great success for Alciphron team, HabiProt and our project.

A project summary leaflet

Common butterfly species in Serbia
Brochure about out project

The project is almost over, so we printed a small info brochure about our recent activities. Of course, you can also download the PDF document (in Serbian). In addition, some text on Serbian butterflies can now be found in Wikipedia. A few articles are already here and you may help us to get better and more complete or writte down a new ones about the species that we did not covered yet. HabiProt also prepared a short brochure showing common species of butterflies that can be found in Serbia and it is also available as PDF (in Serbian). This brochure targets school children and less experianced people that would like to learn more about animals found in their garden.

As during the previous project, we have also prepared a t-shirts with this year’s logo - a life cycle of the scarce large blue. Contact us as soon as possible if you like to receive one for you.

Info table about the violet copper on Stara Planina

Info table on Ponor, Stara Planina

The violet copper (Lycaena helle) is one of the most threatened butterflies in Serbia, so we took care to show it to the visitors of Nature Park Stara Planina. We hope this info table to help everyone to observe and photograph this relict species, but also to pay attention to its voulnerable habitats near the high mountain streams and rivers and not to dectroide them.

Design for this info table is available for download in PDF format.

Butterflies on video!

From today you can watch serial „The Butterfly Empire“, the first documentary movie about butterflies of Serbia. The movied are short, up to ten minuted and deal with some of the most interesting areas for butterflies or a species requireing conservation. The first episode is ready and the others will be published in the next few months. Enjoy! ;)

People and organisations involved in the project

The main team leading the project:
Involved NGOs:
Miloš Popović
Milan Đurić
Ivan Medenica
Jelena Šeat
Mihailo Vujić
Aca Đurđević
Ivan Tot
Đorđe Radevski
Miroslav Miljević
HabiProt, Belgrade
Biological society „Dr Sava Petrović“, Niš
Riparia, Subotica
Orthodox eparchy of Vranje

© Miloš Popović, 2014-2015.