The species Gonepteryx cleopatra is divided into thr following ten subspecies:
- Gonepteryx cleopatra cleopatra (Linnaeus, 1767) – North Africa, Portugal, Spain, Sicily
- Gonepteryx cleopatra balearica Bubacek, 1920 – Balearic Islands
- Gonepteryx cleopatra petronella De Freina, 1977 – Ibiza
- Gonepteryx cleopatra italica (Gerhardt, 1882) – Italy, France, Corsica, Sardinia
- Gonepteryx cleopatra dalmatica Verity, 1908 – Dalmatian coast, western Balkan
- Gonepteryx cleopatra citrina Sheljuzhko, 1925 – southern Greece
- Gonepteryx cleopatra insularis Verity, 1909 – Crete
- Gonepteryx cleopatra fiorii Turati & Fiori, 1930 – Rhodes
- Gonepteryx cleopatra taurica (Staudinger, 1881) – Anatolia, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus
- Gonepteryx cleopatra palmata Turati, 1921 – Cyrenaica, Libya
Gonepteryx cleopatra is a medium sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 50-70 mm (2.0-2.8 inch). It is a sexually dimorphic species - the female has pale yellow or greenish wings, the male is darker yellow with an orange patch on the forewing. Both sexes have a forewing apical hook and brown dots in the center of each wing, and the underside of wings is light greenish yellow. The greenish colour, the shape and the pronounced venation on the hindwings give to these butterflies a good camouflage, making them resemble just leaves.
The Cleopatra butterfly inhabits open woodland and scrub. The flight period is from May to August in most parts of its range, except Spain, where it is double-brooded and may fly almost all year. The adult hibernates in evergreen trees and shrubs. The caterpillars feed on buckthorns (Rhamnus alaternus). When the green caterpillars are prepared to pass to the pupal stage, they tie themselves through a silk belt to the host plant, on the underside of a leaf. The green chrysalis became gradually yellow and red, revealing the colours on the wings of the adult close to flutter.