North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Great Copper (Lycaena xanthoides)
JPG -- species photo

Great Copper (Lycaena xanthoides [Boisduval])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 inches (3.3 - 4.4 cm).

Identification: Gray above with orange band and black spots along edge of hindwing. Below tan with black spots. Orange trim on hind trim on hindwing.

Life history: Males perch and patrol flats and streambeds in search of receptive females.

Flight: May to mid-August, usually late May to mid-July.

Caterpillar hosts: Several dock species.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Open foothills and valleys.

Range: Southern Oregon south through westside California to extreme northern Baja California.

Conservation: None required, although range is being invaded by exotic European weeds that may reduce habitat suitability and availability. Subspecies obsolescens limited to Hunter Mountain in Death Valley National Monument is extremely limited in distribution.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G-5. Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. Subspecies obsolescens is ranked G5T1.

Management needs: None reported.


Emmel, T.C. and J.F. Emmel. 1973. The butterflies of southern California. 

     Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles. 148 pages.

Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986.California Butterflies. University of California 

     Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 246 pp, 24 plates.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin Co., 

     Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 

     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including 

     adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO.

Author: Paul A. Opler

Great Copper (Lycaena xanthoides)
distribution map
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