Common Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
The Common Copper is a species of very widespread butterflies native to various parts of the world. They are known for their contrasting wings in bright orange and black.
- Family: Lycaenidae
- Genus: Lycaena
- Common names: Small Copper Butterfly, American Copper Butterfly
- Scientific Name: Lycaena phlaeas
Description and Identification
Almost all larvae, in general, are green, though some have a purple line along the middle of the dorsal side, as also, both the sides of the body. They consume the underside of the leaf creating typical window-like patterns.
The chrysalis is formed in the leaf litter and is thought to be tended by ants present in the host plants. It looks quite like a shelled groundnut with beige to blackish-beige color.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the upper parts of the forewings show a brilliant orange coloration bordered with a dark edge border and a few spots in black. The hind wings are almost an inverse contrast with a dark base color, bordered with orange. A few of the females display a row of bluish marks inside the orange border. When the wings are closed, it shows a similar design and pattern, though much faint. Females, in general, have notably fewer black spots on their wings.
Average wingspan: .2 to 4.8 cm (1.3 to 1.9 inches)
Flight pattern: Fast
Eggs look unique being round and flat and bearing cavities in a circular pattern. They are laid singly on the upper side of the host plant leaves.
|Distribution||Throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, and some parts of Africa|
|Habitat||Wide variety including heathland, woodland clearings, chalk downlands, waste ground in cities|
|Lifespan of adults||Around two weeks|
|Host plants||Primarily, common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella)|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- They are the most active in the bright sunny days.
- The specific name phlaeas is thought to have derived from either a Greek word ‘phlego’, meaning “to burn up”, or else, from the Latin ‘floreo’, which means “to flourish”.
- During mating season, the males become so territorial that, they would even get agitated seeing the shadow of large birds.