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Hermes Copper (Lycaena [Hermelycaena] hermes)
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Hermes Copper (Lycaena hermes [W. H. Edwards])

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

Identification: Each hindwing has 1 tail. Upperside brown with yellow-orange patch surrounding black spots. Underside bright yellow; forewing with 4-6 black spots, hindwing with 3-6 black spots.

Life history: Males perch to watch for females. Eggs are laid singly on twigs of host plant; they hibernate until the following spring. Caterpillars eat young leaves.

Flight: One flight from May-July.

Caterpillar hosts: Redberry (Rhamnus crocea) in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of wild buckwheat (Eriogonum) in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae).

Habitat: Mixed woodlands, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub.

Range: Restricted range from San Diego County and adjacent Baja California Norte.

Conservation: Species of concern for U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many colonies lost to development or threatened by fire.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range (21 to 100 occurrences). (Threatened throughout its range).

Management needs: Protect existing colonies from habitat loss and fragmentation.


Brown, J. W., H. G. Real, and D. K. Faulkner. Butterflies of Baja California. 
    1992. Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Inc., Beverly Hills, CA. 129 pages, 
    8 color plates.

New, T. R., editor. 1993. Conservation biology of Lycaenidae (Butterflies). 
    Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 8. IUCN, The 
    World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.

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

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
    Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo.
Hermes Copper (Lycaena [Hermelycaena] hermes)
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