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

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.


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

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.



Contact  /  About me

Butterfly-watching holidays

Trip reports

UK latest sightings

Frequently asked questions

Strange but true !

Taxonomy & Evolution



Enemies of butterflies

Survival strategies

Migration & dispersal

Habitats - UK / Palaearctic

Habitats - Tropical rainforests

Butterfly world census

Butterflies of the World :

British Isles


Amazon & Andes

North America

temperate Asia


Indian subcontinent

Malaysia & Borneo

Papua New Guinea

Australia & N.Z.

Insects of Britain & Europe

Insects of Amazonia

Moths of the Andes

Saturniidae - Silkmoths

Caterpillars of the World

Butterfly Photography

Recommended Books



Code of practice

Copyright - text & images

Copyright - text & images






All photographs, artwork, text & website design are the property of Adrian Hoskins ( unless otherwise stated ) and are protected by Copyright. Photographs or text on this website must not be reproduced in part or in whole or published elsewhere without prior written consent of Adrian Hoskins / learnaboutbutterflies.com

Site hosted by Just Host