Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus) (Cramer, [1775])

Diagnosis: One of the larger coppers (wingspan: 23 to 38 mm), the males differ markedly from the females on the upperside. The male forewing is coppery brown with a purple iridescence. The female has an orange forewing with black spots and a dark border. The hindwing on both is coppery brown with a broad orange band bordered by black spots. The undersurface of both sexes is orange with black spots on the forewing and off-white with black spots and a wide orange band at the outer margin on the hindwing.

Range: This is basically a mid-latitude species in North America ranging from Colorado and Virginia north to the southern edge of the Northwest Territories in the west. In Canada, it has been found as far east as the Tantramar Marshes in New Brunswick and Percé on the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. It is common in southern Quebec and southern Ontario, from there extending north of Lake Superior through northwestern Ontario and Manitoba north to Thompson. In Saskatchewan it extends north to Buffalo Narrows, through Alberta, and into the Northwest Territories to Fort Simpson.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Dorcas Copper (L. dorcas), Purplish Copper (L. helloides) and American Copper (L. phlaeas) are smaller and have a less prominent orange marginal band on the underside of the hindwings. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is yellowish green with a dark stripe down the back. It feeds mainly on Curled Dock (Rumex crispus), Water Dock (R. orbiculatus), and knotweed (Polygonum spp.).

Abundance: The Bronze Copper tends to be local and uncommon.

Flight Season: In eastern Canada, this copper is on the wing from mid-June to mid-September with two slightly overlapping broods, with fewer specimens in the second brood. In the west, there is one generation between late June and mid-August.

Habits: The Bronze Copper is a butterfly of open, wet spaces such as marsh edges and wet meadows where the foodplants are found. It is fond of flowers and does not fly readily unless disturbed.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.