Home / Gossamer-Winged (Lycaenidae) / American Copper (Lycaena phlaea)

American Copper (Lycaena phlaea)

American Copper Butterfly
wisconsinbutterflies.org

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.

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

American Copper Butterfly Caterpillar
opimedia.azureedge.net

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.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Lycaena
  • Common names: Small Copper Butterfly, Common Copper Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Lycaena phlaeas

Pupa

American Copper Butterfly Pupa
opimedia.azureedge.net

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.

Adult Butterfly

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.

Common Copper Butterfly
focusingonwildlife.com
Lycaena Phlaea
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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

Eggs

American Copper Butterfly Eggs
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Pale green eggs are laid, one at a time, on the upper side of the leaves of the host plant

Quick Facts

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 females that 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.
American Copper Butterfly Images
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American Copper Butterfly Pictures
naba.org
Small Copper Butterfly
warehouse1.indicia.org.uk

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Lycaena
  • Common names: Small Copper Butterfly, Common Copper Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Lycaena phlaeas