Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

American Copper
Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus, 1761)


Family: Lycaenidae
Subfamily: Lycaeninae
Identification: Upper surface of forewing shiny, fiery orange-red with black spots; hindwing gray with orange-red outer margin. Underside gray; hindwing with submarginal row of orange-red zigzags.
Wing Span: 7/8 - 1 3/8 inches (2.2 - 3.5 cm).
Life History: Males perch on grass or weeds to look for females. Eggs are laid singly on host plant stems or leaves. Young caterpillars chew holes in the underside of leaves; older ones make channels in the leaf tissue. Chrysalids overwinter.
Flight: One flight from July-September for alpine and arctic populations. Two flights in the north from June-July and August-September; three flights in the south from April-September.
Caterpillar Hosts: Herbs of the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family including sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), curled dock (Rumex crispus), and Oxyria digyna.
Adult Food: Nectar from many flowers including common buttercup, white clover, butterflyweed, yarrow, ox-eye daisy, and various composites.
Habitat: In disturbed places in the East including pastures, landfills, vacant lots, road edges, old fields; rocky places in alpine habitats, and tundra in the arctic.
Range: Nova Scotia south to Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas; west across Great Lake states to North Dakota. Native populations found in the Arctic and the western mountains. Comments: Eastern and midwest populations probably result from an introduction from Scandinavia during the colonial period.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None reported.
Comments: NULL