North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Michigan

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas)

Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas Kirby)

Wing span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).

Identification: Upperside brown; male with blue-purple iridescence, female with few light areas. Hindwing with a few red-orange spots on border near anal angle. Underside is orange-brown.

Life history: Males perch and patrol near hostplants for females. Eggs are laid singly on the underside of host leaflets and drop to the ground in autumn. The eggs overwinter and in the spring the young caterpillars must find their way to the host plant to feed on the leaves.

Flight: One flight from June-September.

Caterpillar hosts: Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) and other cinquefoils.

Adult food: Not reported.

Habitat: Edges of bogs, old brushy fields, open places near small streams.

Range: Boreal Alaska and Canada south to Washington, east to eastern Ontario and the northern Great Lakes states. Isolated population in Maine.

Conservation: Subspecies claytoni in Maine should be conserved.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: Manage and conserve habitat of Clayton's copper in Maine.


Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the  Great Plains. Johns 
    Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern  butterflies. Peterson 
    field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co.,  Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford  University Press, 
    Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp.

Nielsen, Mogens C., 1999.  Michigan Butterflies and Skippers: A Field Guide 
     and Reference.  Michigan State University Extension, East Lansing, MI.
     248 pp. 
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas)
distribution map
map legend

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