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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Blue Copper - Lycaena heteronea


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.5-1.9 cm. Uppersurface with a distinct black border and white fringe in both sexes, black spot in forewing cell; male blue above usually with black veining, female gray above with dark spots and usually noticeable blue at hindwing base. Undersurface white or gray-white with or without black spots, .

Phenology
One flight; mostly mid-July to August, earlier near coast, late June to early August in southern California (Scott 1986). June to early September, June and July in lowlands, mainly July and August in mountains and the north (Glassberg 2001). Early May to early September in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005), late June to mid-August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of uppersurface with a distinct black border and white fringe in both sexes, black spot in forewing cell; male blue above usually with black veining, female gray above with dark spots and usually noticeable blue at hindwing base.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Southern British Columbia east to Alberta, south in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains to southern California, in the Great Basin to central Nevada and northern Arizona, in the Rocky Mountains to northern New Mexico (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1676 m to 3200 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981), 392 m to 2499 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), to 2300 m elevation in British Columbia (Gupy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, reported from much of the western (mountainous) half of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 2

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Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Open montane fields and slopes, pine woodland, inter-mountain valleys, foothills grassland, sagebrush steppe, rocky outcrops (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from xeric montane meadows and above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993); in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem also reported from xeric meadows dominated by sagebrush (Debinski et al. 2013).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Eriogonum (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Anaphalis, Apocynum, Asclepias, Ceanothus, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Conium, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Gaillardia, Haplopappus, Heterotheca, Medicago, Melilotus, Potentilla, Rudbeckia, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, Tamarix, Tetradymia), sap, and mud (Scott 1986, 2014; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on bracts under host plant umbels and host plant leaves; eggs overwinter (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch within a few days exposure to spring/summer temperatures. L1 instars begin feeding on host plant leaves, build no nest, sometimes attended by ants, pupate 17-35 days after egg-hatch (depending on temperature). Pupation occurs on underside of host plant leaves, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in 13-14 days; total development from L1 to adult 30-48 days (James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol and perch throughout the day near host plants in all kinds of topography in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Blue Copper — Lycaena heteronea.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from