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Butterflies of Europe
Purple-edged Copper
Lycaena hippothoe  LINNAEUS, 1761
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - LYCAENINAE
Tribe - LYCAENINI
Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe, male, BŁkk hills, Hungary © Peter Bruce-Jones
Introduction

There are over 70 species of Copper butterfly in the genus Lycaena, the vast majority of which are found in the Holarctic region ( North America, Europe and the part of Asia north of the Himalayas ). There are also however at least 5 species in Africa including the Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas, and several in the Oriental region. Additionally there is a single species in Papua New Guinea, and no less than 4 in New Zealand. Australia and South America each have the great misfortune to have not even a single species of this exquisite genus of butterflies.

All Lycaena species are small and of similar shape, and all but a tiny handful have a shimmering fiery copper sheen on their uppersides.

Lycaena hippothoe is found in the Pyrenees, the Auvergne, the Alps, and across most of eastern and northern Europe to Siberia, the Urals and Altai. It is absent from Britain, Portugal, Greece and the Mediterranean coast.

Habitats

This insect is usually associated with damp meadows and hillside bogs. It can be found at sea level in Sweden, Denmark and Finland but elsewhere it usually occurs at elevations between about 400-1800m.

Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe, male, BŁkk hills, Hungary © Peter Bruce-Jones
Lifecycle

The larval foodplants are Polygonum bistorta and Rumex acetosa ( Polygonaceae ).

Adult behaviour

This species usually occurs in small colonies in warm sheltered habitats, where males can be found with their wings half-open, basking among grasses or on low herbage. The darker females are seen much less often.

 

 

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