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American Copper - Lycaena phlaeas


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Arthropoda
 Class: Insecta
 Order: Lepidoptera
 Family: Lycaenidae
 Genus: Lycaena


american copperThe American copper has a wingspan of about an inch. It has rounded wings. The upperside of its forewings are bright copper with black spots and a gray border. Its hindwings are grayish-brown with a copper border. The undersides of its wings are gray with black spots. The underside of its hindwings has an wavy orangish-red band near the edge.


rangeLowland groups of the American copper are found from Nova Scotia, Canada south to Arkansas and Georgia, and west to North Dakota and Kansas. Arctic and alpine populations are found from Greenland west to Alaska and south to the Hudson Bay. American copper populations are also found in the mountains of some western states.


Lowland populations of American coppers are found in pastures, landfills, roadsides, yards, and fields. Arctic and alpine populations are found above the tree line on barren ground and talus slopes. A talus slope is an pile of rocks at the base of a cliff or slope.


american copperThe American copper caterpillar eats herbs of the knotwood or Polygonaceae family including sheep sorrel and curled dock. The adult feeds on the nectar of common buttercup, goldenrod, white clover, butterflyweed, and yarrow.

Life Cycle

The male American copper perches in grassy areas and waits for a female. The female lays one egg at a time on the leaves of a host plant. The American copper produces one to two broods a year. The caterpillar is red to yellow-green and has red and white stripes.