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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Lilac-bordered Copper - Lycaena nivalis


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 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.

Phenology
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).

Diagnostic Characteristics
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.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
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).

Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
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).

Food Habits
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).

Reproductive Characteristics
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).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Lilac-bordered Copper — Lycaena nivalis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from