North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

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Gorgon Copper (Lycaena gorgon)
JPG -- species photo

Gorgon Copper (Lycaena gorgon [Boisduval])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3.2 - 3.8 cm).

Identification: Upperside of male coppery brown with bright reddish purple tinge; female dark brown with cream and black spots. Upperside of female hindwing with row of orange crescents next to row of small back spots. Underside of both sexes gray with black spots; hindwing with submarginal row of red-orange spots.

Life history: Males perch and patrol for females near host plants. Eggs are laid singly on host flower stalks and hatch the next spring. Caterpillars eat leaves.

Flight: One flight from May-June.

Caterpillar hosts: Plants in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) including Eriogonum species.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Sage scrub, chaparral, foothill woodland, rocky hills and outcrops.

Range: Southern Oregon through California to Baja California.

Conservation: Not usually required. Some colonies lost to development and others degraded from effects of exotic grasses and other weeds.

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: None reported.


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.
Gorgon Copper (Lycaena gorgon)
distribution map
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