Ruddy Copper - Lycaena rubidus
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.6-1.9 cm. Sexually dimorphic. Uppersurface of males fiery red-orange with narrow black border and unchecked white fringe, female brown to dull orange-brown with black spots and dull orange marginal zigzag, narrow black border and unchecked white fringe. Undersurface of both sexes gray-white or pale tan-white with orange flush on forewing disk, hindwing with only tiny black spots if any, lacking orange zigzag of uppersurface.
One flight; mid-June to July at low elevation, mid-July to August at high elevation (Scott 1986). Mid-May to August, mainly June at low elevation and July to August at high elevation and in north (Glassberg 2001). Late June to mid-August in central Colorado (Emmel 1964), mid-June to early September in south-central Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), mid-May to late-August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005).
Best determined by the wings of both sexes with a thin black line at margin and white unchecked fringe; the uppersurface of males fiery red-orange, females brown to dull orange with black spots; undersurface of both sexes off-white with an orange flush on the forewing disk and the hindwing with very small black spots if any at all.
Southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan south to northern New Mexico, southern Utah, southern California, east to central North Dakota and Nebraska, west to eastern Washington and Oregon (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001), not yet reported from British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001); 1402 m to 3353 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981), 24 m to 1829 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported from at least 31 counties across the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database). Locally common to abundant over most of range, locally rare at eastern and northern edges (Glassberg 2001).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Well-drained sandy and gravelly areas, sagebrush steppe, juniper flats, pine forest glades, gentle slopes in moist meadows, near streambeds, alluvial washes (Emmel 1964; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, reported in dry montane meadows and sagebrush near streams (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).
Larval food plants include Rumex (several species) and Oxyria (Scott 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Anaphalis, Apocynum, Asclepias, Berteroa, Centaurea, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Cleome, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Euphorbia, Helianthus, Heterotheca, Medicago, Melilotus, Potentilla, Psoralea, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum) and mud (Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly at or near base of larval host plant on twig, dead leaf, wood chip, dirt, in litter; eggs overwinter (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in captivity 4-6 days after exposed to late-spring temperatures, develop from egg-hatch to pupation in 19-22 days (depending on temperature), nearly half that time as L4 instar, pupate on host plant or inert surface, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in 10-17 days. Larvae solitary, build no nest, retreat to base of host plant to hide, feed on host plant leaves (James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs associated with ants (Formica altipetens) in Arizona, possibly overwinter in ant nest (Funk 1975), larvae tended by ants (F. pilicornis) in captivity in California (Ballmer and Pratt 1991). Males territorial, perch conspicuously throughout the day on vegetation < 1 m tall in dry gullys, along streams, dirt trails, meadows to wait for passing females (Scott 1975b, 1986; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Ballmer, G.R. and G.F. Pratt. 1991. Quantification of ant attendance (myrmecophily) of lycaenid larvae. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 30(1-2): 95-112.
- Brown, F.M. 1957. Colorado Butterflies. Proceedings; Numbers Three through Seven. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Co.
- Debinski, D.M. and J.A. Pritchard. 2002. A field guide to the butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers. 107 p.
- Emmel, T.C. 1964. The ecology and distribution of butterflies in a montane community near Florissant, Colorado. American Midland Naturalist 72(2): 358-373.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Funk, R.S. 1975. Association of ants with ovipositing Lycaena rubidus (Lycaenidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 29: 261-262.
- 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. 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
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.
- Caruthers, J.C., and D. Debinski. 2006. Montane meadow butterfly species distributions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. University of Wyoming National Park Service Research Center Annual Report, 2006. Vol. 30, Art. 14. 85-96.
- 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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