Blue Copper - Lycaena heteronea
[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, .
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).
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.
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).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
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).
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).
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).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Brown, F.M. 1957. Colorado Butterflies. Proceedings; Numbers Three through Seven. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Co.
- Debinski, D. 1993. Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. No. 159: 1-13.
- Debinski, D.M., J.C. Caruthers, D. Cook, J. Crowley, and H. Wickham. 2013. Gradient-based habitat affinities predict species vulnerability to drought. Ecology 94(5): 1036-1045.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, their taxonomy, distribution, and biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
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