Lustrous Copper (Lycaena cupreus [W. H. Edwards])
Wing span: 1 1/8 - 1 1/4 inches (2.9 - 3.1 cm).
Identification: Upperside is shiny coppery red with small black spots and black border. Spots are larger in female. Underside is gray with many small black spots; forewing with overall copper tinge and black submarginal line; hindwing submarginal line is red.
Life history: Males perch and patrol for females in hollows of open areas. Females lay eggs singly on or near host plant leaves; which the caterpillars then eat. Half-grown caterpillars hibernate.
Flight: One flight from June-August.
Caterpillar hosts: Plants of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) including alpine sorrel (Rumex pauciflorus), and other Rumex and Oxyria species.
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Mountain meadows, sagebrush flats, glacial cirques, rocky treeless areas.
Range: At high elevations in the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia south to New Mexico. Moderate to high elevations on Pacific Slope; Oregon to Sierra Nevada of California; western Nevada.
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.
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:
Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1980. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 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. Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Add Toliver, M., Holland, R., and S.J. Cary. 1996. Distributional data for New Mexico Butterflies. Privately published. Albuquerque, N.M.