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