Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Mariposa Copper - Tharsalea mariposa

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.3-1.7 cm. Fringes of wings black and white checked. Uppersurface of male iridescent dark purple, female brown with yellow patches on forewing; undersurface of hindwing mottled gray with black dots and dashes and submarginal band of inwardly-pointing black chevrons, forwing orange-flushed with heavy black marks.

One flight; mid-July to August (Scott 1986). Late June to August (Glassberg 2001). Mid-July through August in Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late May to late September in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), late June through August in Oregon (Warren 2005), late June to early September in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of the fringes of wings black and white checked; undersurface of hindwing mottled gray with black dots and dashes and submarginal band of inwardly-pointing black chevrons, forewing orange-flushed with heavy black marks.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Southeastern Alaska and Yukon south to central California, Idaho, and western Wyoming; isolated population in the Cypress Hills of Alberta/Saskatchewan (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Mostly above 2500 m elevation in Rocky Mountain region (Ferris and Brown 1981), 914 m to 2316 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), 488 m to 1463 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, reported from the montane western half of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Common to abundant, except rare to uncommon in California Sierra Nevada (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 9

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



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


Moist meadows and openings in lodgepole pine forest, coniferous forest, bogs, roadsides, trail sides, dry slopes and summits (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from xeric montane meadows (Debinski 1993).

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: 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 Andromeda and at least four species of Vaccinium (Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Warren 2005; James and Nunnalee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Achillea, Anaphalis, Gentiana, Leucanthemum, Sanguisorba, Sedum, Senecio, Spiraea, and Symphyotrichum (Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs on host plant stems or leaves near plant base; eggs overwinter. Eggs hatch after about about 3-6 days of development. Larvae develop from L1 instar to L4 instar and pupation in about 23-31 days after egg-hatch. Larvae feed on flower buds, small fruits, but mostly leaves. Adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 17 days (depending on temperature). Larvae do not construct nests, are sometimes attended by ants (Scott 1979; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day on low trees and shrubs in depressions and valley bottoms in dense forest clearings awaiting passing females, sometimes patrol around flowers (Scott 1975b, 1986; Warren 2005).

Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Mariposa Copper — Tharsalea mariposa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from