Lilac-bordered Copper (Lycaena nivalis) (Boisduval, 1869)

Diagnosis: The males of nivalis are copper coloured above with a lilac sheen and small black spots. Females are dark brown with a variable amount of orange shading. Both sexes have an orange marginal hindwing band and yellow underside with fine black spots. The best characteristic for this species is the two-toned hindwing underside: yellow towards the body and lilac towards the margin. Wingspan: 25 to 29 mm.

Subspecies: Subspecies browni occurs in Canada.

Range: This small copper is a mountain species mainly of the western U.S. It occurs in Canada only in southern British Columbia, mainly in the Okanagan Valley north as far as Terrace Mountain near Vernon.

Similar Species: The Purplish Copper (L. helloides) lacks the lilac sheen; on the underside, the forewing is orange and the hindwing is pale brown. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is green with fine brown hairs and one red and two white lines an the body. The foodplant is Douglas's Knotweed (Polygonum douglasii).

Abundance: The Lilac-bordered Copper is very local and uncommon, and is considered vulnerable in Canada in its restricted range in British Columbia (Guppy et al., 1994).

Flight Season: Adults fly in July in British Columbia.

Habits: This copper is most commonly found in dry flowering meadows and forest clearings in the mountains. It is also found along streamsides and sage flats in the interior valleys of British Columbia.

Remarks: The lilac shading on the underside of this species fades quickly in life and after a few days it often appears dingy.

© 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.