American Copper

Lycaena phlaeas

The American Copper flies a foot or two off the ground in rather quick sorties from one nectar source or perch to another. Being only an inch in wingspan, the American Copper would seem to be a seldom-observed species, but its colorful coppery wings give away its position.

Weekly sightings for American Copper

Identifying characteristics

The forewing above is orange with black spots and a grayish-black border. The hind wing above is mainly dark gray with an orange border. Below, the front wing is similar to the upper surface but a lighter shade of orange, while the hind wing below is a much lighter shade of gray, with black dots throughout and a zigzag submarginal line.

Similar species

Bronze Coppers are much larger, up to 1.5 inches compared to the American’s wingspan of approximately one inch, and have a much wider orange band on the hind wings below. Purplish Coppers have a much wavier and thinner marginal orange band on the upper hind wing.

Habitat

Open areas, including lawns and old fields where its host plant, Sheep Sorrel grows.

Flight

Usually 3-4 broods per year, with the first occurring in late May or early June, and then lasting until October in some years

Abundance

Found throughout most of the state, except possibly the far north. American Coppers may become quite abundant under the right conditions.

Late American Copper Sightings

Date County Reported by
Oct 16, 2010 Marquette Dan Sonnenberg
Oct 17, 2010 Bayfield Ryan Brady
Oct 21, 2011 Marquette Dan Sonnenberg
Oct 21, 2012 Columbia Lester Doyle
Oct 25, 2014 Columbia Lester Doyle

Locations

Map showing sighting locations for American Copper
Map key
American CopperClick to enlarge

White River Marsh Wildlife Area, Green Lake Co., WI. August 25, 2006.

American CopperClick to enlarge

White River Marsh Wildlife Area, Green Lake Co., WI. August 25, 2006.

American CopperClick to enlarge

South of Coloma, Waushara Co., WI. May 27, 2002.

American CopperClick to enlarge

Karner Blue Meadow SNA, Waushara Co., WI. July 26, 2005.

American CopperClick to enlarge

Buena Vista Marsh, Portage Co., WI. August 28, 2002.