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American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Copper.

 Updated: 3/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Though found on other continents, the American Copper is one of North America's most popular and wide-ranging butterflies.



Thought to have emigrated from Europe, the American Copper adapted well to its new home. Ranging throughout almost every state and province, the American Copper is ubiquitous, and can be found in a variety of habitats. In the east, look for them in fields and pastures as well as roadsides and meadows. In the west, look for them in higher elevations on hiking trails and outcroppings of vegetation among the rocks. Adults are active from mid-spring through the end of autumn. They drink nectar from a variety of flowers like clover, yarrow and buttercups.

When resting with wings flat, one can admire the bright orange color that covers most of the forewings of the American Copper. The hindwings are mostly brown with a faint black circle near the midline on each. Both sets of wings are bedecked with medium-sized black dots; spread out on the forewing, and along the bottom edge of the hindwing. A white fringe borders all wings. When the wings are raised, The American Copper looks like an altogether different butterfly. The rich tawny brown is replaced with whitish-gray. The underside of the forewing is still largely orange, but the hindwing is mostly gray with three rows of small black dots. A thin, bright, orange-red line traces the bottom edge of the hindwing near the fringe.

Caterpillars of the American Copper are fond of eating the leafy parts of sheep and alpine sorrel, a plant from the buckwheat family. Curly dock, another ground-level leafy plant, is also preferred. Their bodies are green and plump, completely covered in very short hairs. The side of each segment has a tiny yellow dot and its tail end tapers. Two to four broods can be produced in one year with more occurring in the warmer states of the U.S. and Mexico.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Lycaenidae
          Genus: Lycaena
            Species: phlaeas
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Lycaena phlaeas
Other Name(s): Common Copper, Flame, Copper, Small Copper
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 28mm (0.86in to 1.09in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, brown, white, black, gray
Descriptors: dots, spots, two-toned, band, fringe, small, flying
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
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State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
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State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
5
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
6
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.