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American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas [Linnaeus])

Wing span: 7/8 - 1 3/8 inches (2.2 - 3.5 cm).

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.

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

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