Lilac-bordered Copper - Lycaena nivalis
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.4-1.7 cm. Uppersurface of male red-orange with iridescent purpleish-blue highlights, female brown with variable amounts of yellow, both sexes with dark marginal band on forewing, orange and black marginal band on hindwing. Undersurface of forewing bright yellow to buff with black spots, hindwing with two-toned appearance, tan-yellow basally with outer third of hindwing iridescent lilac-pink and with embedded orange zig-zag.
One flight; late June to early August (Scott 1986). Late May to to early September, depending on elevation (Glassberg 2001). July and August in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), mid-May to early August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), late May through August in Oregon (Warren 2005), late may to mid-August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).
Best determined by undersurface of forewing bright yellow to buff with black spots, hindwing with two-toned appearance, tan-yellow basally with outer third of hindwing iridescent lilac-pink and with embedded orange zig-zag.
Southern British Columbia south in mountains to central California, northern Nevada, central Utah, southern Colorado (Ferris and Brown 1981; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002); to 3100 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Ferris and Brown 1981), 488 m to 2896 m elevation in Oregon (Newcomer 1963; Warren 2005), 305 m to 2134 m elevation in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002). In Montana, reported from at least ten counties in the mountainous western 1/3 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Common to abundant (Glassberg 2001).
Montane meadows, moist slopes, ponderosa pine forest, streamside terraces, sagebrush steppe, canyons (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, reported in wet meadows dominated by sedge and willow (Debinski et al. 2013).
Larval food plants include Polygonum douglasii in the wild, also Rumex in captivity (Newcomer 1963; Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Anaphalis, Antennaria, Calyptridium, Eriogonum, Eriophyllum, Galium, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Senecio, Spiraea, Symphyothrichum) and mud (Newcomer 1963; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly at or near base of host plant, on undersides of leaves, and sometimes nearly dried up (Newcomer 1963; Scott 1986). Eggs overwinter (hibernate), possibly 8-10 months; begin hatching about 3 days post-diapause (depending on temperature). Larvae develop quickly, reach L4 instar and pupate 25 days post-hatch. Adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 11 days. Larvae build no nest, feed only on host plant leaves, are poorly attended by ants (Formica pilicornis) (Newcomer 1963; Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day in shallow bare depressions in open areas awaiting females (Scott 1975b, 1986).
- 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.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.
- Newcomer, E.J. 1963. The synonymy, variability and biology of Lycaena nivalis. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 2(4): 271-280.
- 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. 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.
- 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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