Maritime Copper (Lycaena dospassosi) (McDunnough, 1940)

Diagnosis: Larger (wingspan: 25 to 31 mm) than the Dorcas Copper, males are a duller purple above with much larger black spots on the wings above and below. On the underside the forewing is pale yellow buff and the hindwing is a little browner. The submarginal band of lunules on the hindwing below is yellow. Females are similar to males except that the wings above are brown with a partial yellow band beyond the post medial row of black spots.

Range: This species is known only from salt marshes in the Bay of Chaleur, Quebec/New Brunswick, and the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: Similar to the Dorcas Copper (L. dorcas), which occurs in the same area, but dorcas is smaller, has tiny black dots on the wings except for a single central spot, the wings above are shining purple, and the wings below are yellow orange (forewing) and orange brown (hindwing), with a reddish-orange band of lunules near the margin of the hindwing below. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larvae and pupae are a more uniform green, without the brown mottling of the Dorcas Copper (Reginald Webster, pers. comm.). They feed on Silverweed (Potentilla egedii).

Abundance: The Maritime Copper is localized to a few salt marshes but it can occur in fair numbers at these sites.

Description of this image follows.
Maritime Copper (Lycaena dospassosi). Hay Island, Neguac, NB. A.W. Thomas

Flight Season: Adults are on the wing from late July until mid-August.

Habits: Adults gather in numbers to feed on the flowers of Sea-lavender (Limonium nashii) and do not occur in sites where this plant is rare or absent (Louis Handheld, pers. comm.).

Remarks: Previously considered to be a subspecies of Dorcas Copper, we treat the Maritime Copperas a valid species, based largely on the field research in Quebec by Louis Handfield and in New Brunswick by Reginald Webster. A colony of Maritime Copper at St-Siméon-de-Bonaventure, Quebec, is only six kilometres from a colony of Dorcas Copper at Bonaventure and there is no evidence of intermediates at either site. The marsh at Bonaventure is less salty because of the influence of the Bonaventure River; other Gaspé locations for Dorcas Copper are also less salty than the marshes where the Maritime Copper occurs. Maritime Coppers observed at several locations in Quebec were closely associated with Potentilla egedii but not with P. anserina or P. fruticosa. By contrast, Dorcas Coppers at Bonaventure were associated with P. fruticosa but not with P. egedii or P. anserina which grow nearby (Louis Handfield, pers. comm.).

© 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.