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Know Your Butterflies: Coppers, Lycaeninae

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Slideshow of Copper Butterflies, Lycaeninae with basic identification information. Hyperlinks for identification sites included.

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Know Your Butterflies: Coppers, Lycaeninae

  1. 1. Know your Butterflies: Coppers, Lycaeninae The second largest group of butterflies are the Lycaenids or the Gossamer-winged butterflies with more than 4000 species world-wide. In this group there are the Hairstreaks, Blues and Coppers which are easily recognizable because of their distinct wings. The Blues are obviously blue and beyond that, the observer may be puzzled regarding the identity of the insect. Hairstreaks are known for their white streaks that appear on the underwing which identify them and the Coppers are the gloriously flamboyant of the Lycanidae in their flame orange and fiery red wings flashing through the air. The Lycaenids are sedentary butterflies, very tightly associated to one area. Many of the Lycaenids are myrmecophiles as their larvae that attract ants which tend them in return for the sugary honeydew they exude from special glands. In return, the ants protect them through the larval stages from predators. It can take more than 10 years for a species to migrate 50 meters, so it isn't like they can pack their baggage and hop to the next town via train link. Once their land is disturbed or mown, they vanish because the larvae is selectively dependent on few plant varieties. It's not just the plant, but also the height of a plant, because the Large Copper, Lycaena dispar is attracted to tall plants over short ones which may have to do with the amount of eggs that can be laid.
  2. 2. Scarce Large Blue, Phengaris teleius In the Phengaris family of Lycaenids, often the butterflies will not lay more than one egg a plant and will not lay eggs on plants which other butterflies have used for oviposition. This may be related to the survival rate as phengaris are myrmecophiles and a single larvae may have greater chance at adoption by passing ant than if there is competition between five larvae and two ants. What we assumed we knew from picture books is a false impression of butterfly ecology because it is very complicated world that they live in with threats of industrial agriculture, pesticides, industrial mowing, urban development and land devastation. Stripping the verges and making nicely mown highway edges or pretty lawns isn't good for butterfly survival as they need uncut grasslands, abandoned railways, uncut embankments and verges where wildflowers grow undisturbed. Coppers/ Lycaeninae
  3. 3. Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae Host plants for the copper are limited to Sorrel, Rumex species. The adult butterflies have far larger diet which includes Tall Fleabane, Tansy, Dandelions, Hawkweeds, Scabious, Knautia, Succisa, Asters, Daisies and a wide range of what are called weeds. Coppers flourish on chalk and limestone soils, scrubland and wasteland and sandy soils. If it seems like a wasteland with Tall Fleabane waving in the breeze, then perhaps there are Coppers nearby. Studies in Vienna show that coppers can flourish successfully so long as the vacant lots and scrublands are left undisturbed and unmown. Of the Lycanidae, there are only a few Coppers which are sedentary butterflies. If you see it, wait, because it will come back. Of the European butterflies, the Large Copper is absent from England, but has unsuccessfully been reintroduced as a recovery project. Because the Coppers are sedentary and do not fly very far from their larval site, they are threatened by land disturbance. Many species only live in small colonies of 30 insects or less; others are solitary, but as Coopers are unable to fly over short gaps for effective mating and species survival. Coppers, Lycaeninae
  4. 4. Coppers, Lycaeninae Large Copper, Lycaena dispar The Large Copper, Lycaena dispar is noted for its association with ants as its larvae secretes honeydew which attracts Myrmica rubra and Lasius niger. However, other Coppers are only known for casual interactions with ants and not for obligate myrmecophily. The Small Copper, Lycaena phaeas, is also known as the Common or American Copper because it is widespread across the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe and Eurasia. As Lycaenids are not migratory, they are found in small local pockets and therefore face more dangers and threats than other species as they are not able to move with the global climate changes. The one exception is the Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus which is moving eastwards toward and into Turkey and north out of Spain. Large Copper, Lycaena dispar Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe Purple-shot Copper, Lycaena alciphron Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus Violet Copper, Lycaena helle
  5. 5. Synonyms: Thersamono lycaena dispar, Papilio dispar Status: Near Threatened/ Endangered 1994 Host plant: Great Water Dock, Rumex hydrolapatum; Western Dock, Rumex aquaticus; Wood Dock, Rumex sanguineus Plant/adult: Scabious, Succusa, Knautia, Button flowers, Tall Fleabane, Erigeron annuus; Habitat: wet grasslands, fens, tall grasses and plants. Prefers the tallest grasses for egg-laying, number of eggs is thought to be realated to amount of leaves available on the dock plants. Myrmecophile: attended by Myrmica rubra and Lasius niger. Larvae emits secretions that attracts the attention and protection of ants. Fiedler 1990, Systematic, evolutionary and ecological omplications of myrmecophily within the Lycaenidae. Threats: mowing, agriculture. Mowing should not be dome more than every 2-3 years. Prefers tall grass and uncut meadows. Sedentary. Tanks and oversized 4wheel vehicles such as a Hummer or recreational decommissioned military tanks. Large Copper, Lycaena dispar
  6. 6. Flight: April- August and August-September Countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldovia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Uzbekistan • Large Copper, Lycaena disbar/ Biolib.cz http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id51373/ Butterflies of Europe and North Africa http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/LycaeDispa.htm Large Copper, Lycaena dispar/ UK Butterflies http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=dispar#.U6QB6O aAKSH Large Copper, Lycaena dispar/ Butterflies of Europe http://www.lepidoptera.eu/show.php?ID=131&country=XX Large Copper, Lycaena dispar/ IUCN Red List http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12433/0 Large Copper, Lycaena dispar/ Fauna Europaea http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=441190 Large Copper, Lycaena dispar// EOL.org http://eol.org/pages/265242/overview Large Copper, Lycaena dispar
  7. 7. Synonyms: Heodes virgaureae Plant/ larvae: Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa; Sheep's Sorrel, Rumex acetosella; Rumex, Sorrel, Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare; Bistor, Bistorta sp. Plant/adult: Umbels, Scabious, Knautia, Suiccisa, Ragweed, Daisy, Tansy, Astericeae, Yarrow, Achille millefolium, Fleabane, Tall Fleabane, Erigeron annus, Erigeron canadensis, Habitat: dry meadows, grassy land, Countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, ex- Yugoslavia Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae
  8. 8. Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae/ Biolib.cz http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id51374/ European Butterflies and Moths http://www.lepidoptera.eu/show.php?ID=136&country= XX Moths and Butterflies of Europe and Northern Africa http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/LycaenVirg au.htm Butterflies of France http://www.butterfliesoffrance.com/html/Lycaena%20vir gaureae.htm Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae/ Fauna Europaea http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=441193 Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae
  9. 9. Synonyms: Lycaena phlaeus, Little Coper, American Copper, Common Copper Status LC Host plant: Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa; Sheep's Sorrel, Rumex acetosella; Rumex, Sorrel, Plant/adult: Fleabane, Pulcaria sp. Conyza sp; Butterfcup, Ranunculus sp; Daisy, Belle perennis; Dandelion, Taraxacum sp; Hawkweeds, Hieracum sp; Ragwort, Seneca jacobaea, Heather, Callunia vulgaris,+ Erica sp; Red Clover, Trifolim pretense; Thistle, Cersum sp + Cardus sp.; Yarrow, Achillea millefollium, Tall Fleabane, Ergeron annuus Habitat: Chalk downlands, grassy plains, heath, woodlands, scrub and wastelands Life and flight: April-October 2-3 generations in a season Countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canary islands, Channel Islands, Corsica, Crete, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dodecanese Islands, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, The Netherlands, Ukraine, ex- Yugoslavia Spread across North America and throughout Europe and Asia. Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas
  10. 10. Small Copper, Lycaenae phlaeas/ UK Butterflies http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=p hlaeas Small Copper, Lycaenae phlaeas / Euiropean Butterflies and Moths http://www.lepidoptera.eu/show.php?ID=134&country =XX Small Copper, Lycaenae phlaeas / Biolib.cz http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id51371/ Small Copper, Lycaenae phleaes/ Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/LycaenP hlaeas.htm Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas/ Fauna Europaea http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=441185 Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas/ EOL.org http://eol.org/pages/262721/overview Small Copper, Lycaenae phleaes/ Learn About Butterflies http://www.learnaboutbutterflies.com/Britain%20- %20Lycaena%20phlaeas.htm Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas
  11. 11. Synonyms: Lycaena dorylas, Papilio circe, Papilio dorilis, Papilio tityrus Status : LC Host plant: Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa; Sheep's Sorrel, Rumex acetosella; Rumex, Sorrel, Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare; Bistor, Bistorta sp. Plant/adult:Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, Meadow bistort, Bistorta officinalis; Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens; garden Sorrel, Rumex acetosa, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculata; Legum and Fabaceae, Mouse-ear, Cerastium; Mouse-ear Chickweed, Ragwort, Jacobeae vulgaris Habitat: fallow land, dry meadows, railway tracks embankments and verges Predator parastite: Ichneuman erxtensorius Life: 2- 3 generations a year. Flight May-mid July with 2nd generation July-September. In the last 10- 20 years, the Sooty Copper has lost about 90% of its habitat in Europe due to land development, intensive agriculture and sprawling urban development. Countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Corsica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, The Netherlands, Ukraine, ex-Yugoslavia Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus
  12. 12. Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus/ Biolib.cz http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id51376/ Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus/ UK Butterflies http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=tity rus#.U6QtqeaAKSE Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus// European Butterflies and Moths http://www.lepidoptera.eu/show.php?ID=135&country= XX Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus/ Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa http://www.leps.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/LycaenTit yr.htm Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus/ EOL.org http://eol.org/pages/4050396/overview Lycaena tityrus/ Butterflies of France http://www.butterfliesoffrance.com/html/Lycaena%20ti tyrus.htm Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus/ Fauna Europaea http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=441198 Sooty Copper, Lycaena tityrus

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