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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Gray Copper - Lycaena dione


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 1.8-2.2 cm. A large copper. Uppersurface dark gray, forewing with two black cell spots, hindwing with pale orange and black zigzag border on outer edge, orange invading forwing margin in male. Undersurface gray with black spots, prominent wide red-orange hindwing marginal band.

Phenology
One flight; mid-June and July (Scott 1986). Mid-June and July north to the Dakotas, July to mid-August in Alberta and Saskatchewan (Glassberg 2001). Late June to late July in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), mid-June to early September (Pyle 2002), mid-July to mid-August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of the Uppersurface dark gray, forewing with two black cell spots, hindwing with pale orange and black zigzag border on outer edge; undersurface gray with black spots, prominent wide red-orange hindwing marginal band.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Southern Alberta east across southern Canada to the Great Lakes region of Ontario, south in the east to Oklahoma, central Missouri, southern Illinois, south in the west through northern Idaho and Montana to northern Texas, northeastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002); to about 2200 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states but more abundant lower (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1310 m to 1645 m elevation in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported from most counties east of the mountains, a few counties west of the continental divide (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Uncommon to locally common in the west (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3

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Relative Density

Recency

 

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



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Abandoned and fallow fields, pastures, moist meadows, open grassy areas along ponds, ditches, and streams, marshy lakeshores (Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat for Montana not described but probably similar.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Polygonum (possibly) and at least five species of Rumex (Scott 1986, 1992,2006; Guppy and Shepard 2001). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Apocynum, Asclepias, Carduus, Cirsium, Clematis, Medicago, Melilotus, Ratibida, Symphoricarpos, Trifolium, and Verbena (Guppy and Shepard 2001; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on dead host plant stems, dead leaves, at stem base, in litter, on dead twigs; eggs overwinter, larvae build no nest, pupate in loose cocoon with dirt particles apparently in litter (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992, 2006). Males perch throughout the day 1 m or less above the ground beside trails awaiting females, sometimes patrol in low areas in fields, beside streams, court females on flowers (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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