American Copper (Lycaena phlaea)
The American Copper is a species of active summer butterflies seen hovering in a variety of habitats, including human-made gardens, in a bright sunny day, flying at a maximum height of two feet above the ground.
- Family: Lycaenidae
- Genus: Lycaena
- Common names: Small Copper Butterfly, Common Copper Butterfly
- Scientific Name: Lycaena phlaeas
Description and Identification
The color patterns of the larvae may vary, from a reddish hue with yellow tones along the sides, to a faint yellowish green with pronounced red marks on the back or the sides. Their tiny body is covered with soft, downy hair and has a length of approximately ¾ of an inch.
The chrysalis looks like a dry seed, which is particularly for the purpose of camouflaging. They are dark brown in color with light brown markings on the back. The pupation occurs in the leaf litter, as they hibernate throughout the winter season.
Sexual Dimorphism: Not present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, it shows a vibrant copper (reddish orange or tan) coloration with eight to nine dark brown spots, as also a dark border along the edge. The hindwings are dark gray with an orange border. Some females of the species also bear a row of blue spots inside the orange border. When the wings are closed, the ventral sides of the wings show a similar pattern as the dorsal sides, but in a duller tone.
Average wingspan: 7/8 to 1 3/8 in (2.2 to 3.5 cm)
Flight pattern: Fast and erratic; sometimes glides/hovers in the air
Pale green eggs are laid, one at a time, on the upper side of the leaves of the host plant
|Distribution||Throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, as well as in North Africa – south through to Ethiopia|
|Habitat||Chalk downlands, woodland clearings, churchyards, heathland, and urban waste grounds|
|Lifespan of adults||Believed to be approximately two weeks|
|Host plants||Plants from the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family like sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), curled dock (Rumex crispus), and Oxyria digyna|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
Some femalesthat have the extra blue on the hindwings are called caeruleopunctata.
- The species is considered to be the most aggressive kind belonging to
its family, especially the males, chasing fellow butterflies and even insects or birds, casting a shadow while flying by, or entering their territories.