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 brown colors of the American Copper are replaced with whitish-gray. A thin orange-red line runs near the bottom edge of the hindwing on this side.
Caterpillars are fond of eating sheep and alpine sorrel from the buckwheat family, as well as curly dock. Two to four broods can be produced in one year with the greater number occurring in warmer, southern states. Their bodies are green, darkening at the head.