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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Purplish Copper - Lycaena helloides


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 1.4-1.7 cm. Uppersurface of male dark brown with purple iridescence on both wings, female with extensive orange on both wings and heavy black spotting on forewing, hindwing of both sexes with orange marginal zigzag in brown border. Undersurface of forewing light copper with strong black spots, hindwing light gray-lavender with fine black dots and thin orange-red zigzag marginal band.

Phenology
Several flights, mid-May to mid-October (June to mid-October in Saskatchewan, April to October in California); one flight mid-July to August at high elevation (Scott 1986). Two to three flights at most locations, April-May to September-October; one flight at high elevation, June to August (Glassberg 2001). Mid-may to mid-October in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), late April to mid-October in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), mid-May to mid-October in Oregon (Warren 2005), mid-May to mid-September in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by combination of uppersurface of male dark brown with purple iridescence on both wings, female with extensive orange on both wings and heavy black spotting on forewing, hindwing of both sexes with orange marginal zigzag in brown border, undersurface of hindwing light gray-lavender with fine black dots and thin orange-red zigzag marginal band.

Species Range
Montana Range

Click the legend blocks above to view individual ranges.
 


Range Comments
Southern British Columbia south to Baja California, northern Arizona and New Mexico, east across southern Canada and Upper Midwest to Great Lakes region (Ferris 1977; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002); usually below 2590 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states, but to at least 3353 m in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981), near sea level to 2286 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), sea level to 3048 m elevation in Washington (James and Nunnallee 2011), 459 m to 909 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, reported from all counties in the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Common (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 20

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

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



Migration
Non-migratory

Habitat
Wet fields and meadows, streamsides, roadsides, pastures, open disturbed sites (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993), in Gallatin County and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, most abundant in montane wet and mesic meadows (Debinski et al. 2013).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Polygonum and several species of Rumex, as well as Argentina, Gayophyton, Oxytheca, and Potentilla (Garth and Tilden 1963; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Achillea, Asclepias, Apocynum, Baccharis, Bidens, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Croton, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Grindelia, Lepidium, Machaeranthera, Medicago, Melilotus, Mentha, Polygonum, Potentilla, Ranunculus, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, and Trifolium (Scott and Scott 1978; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly (85 by one female reported) and haphazardly at the base of host plant or on host plant leaves (upper or lower surfaces, live or dead) and complex flower heads (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 5-6 days (depending on temperature), develop to L4 instar and pupae in 17-24 days after egg-hatch, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 7 days. Eggs from latest brood overwinter (diapause), emerge in 8-10 days after exposure to spring-like temperatures. Larvae feed on host leaves, build no nest, tend to be solitary, not associated with ants (Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males territorial, perch and sometime patrol throughout the day in depressions of wet meadows and along streams in 0.5 m-tall vegetation near host plants, seeking females (Scott 1975b, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011).

References
  • 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. 1977. Taxonomic revision of the species dorcas Kirby and helloides Boisduval in the genus Scudder (Lycaenidae: Lycaeninae). Bulletin of the Allyn Museum 45: 1-42.
    • Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
    • Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1963. Yosemite butterflies: an ecological survey of the butterflies of the Yosemite sector of the Sierra Nevada, California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 2: 1-96.
    • 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.
    • Threatful, D.L. 1988. A list of the butterflies and skippers of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, British Columbia, Canada (Lepidoptera). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27(3-4): 213-221.
    • 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
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • 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.
    • Hooper, R.R. 1973. Butterflies of Saskatchewan: a field guide. Saskatchewan Dept. Nat. Res. and Saskatchewan Mus. Nat. Hist., Regina. 216 pp.
    • Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
    • Opler, P.A., K. Lotts, and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and moths of North America. Big Sky Institute, Bozeman, MT. Available at: www.butterfliesandmoths.org (Accessed 15 June 2015).
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Purplish Copper — Lycaena helloides.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from