Purplish Copper (Lycaena helloides [Boisduval])
Wing span: 1 1/8 - 1 1/2 inches (3 - 3.8 cm).
Identification: Upperside of male brown with purple iridescence; female more orange. Hindwing of both sexes with broad orange band at margin.
Life history: Males perch and sometimes patrol in low spots for females. Eggs are scattered at the base of the host plant or in litter beneath it. Eggs hibernate; caterpillars feed on leaves.
Flight: Three or four flights in lower elevation California. Two flights in many areas from May-July and from August-October. One flight at high altitude and far northern habitats from July-August.
Caterpillar hosts: Knotweeds (Polygonum) and docks (Rumex) in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), cinquefoils in the rose family (Rosaceae).
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Disturbed areas including roadsides and open fields; wet meadows, marshes, streamsides, and valleys.
Range: Great Lakes area through the northern Midwest and northern plains to British Columbia, south to Baja California.
Comments: The distinction between the Purplish Copper and the Dorcas Copper is blurred in the Rocky Mountains. These populations here are considered under the Purplish Copper.
Conservation: Not usually required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
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:
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.