Friday, 26 September 2014

Nova Scotia Coppers...Part 2 

In Part 1 (see Nova Scotia Coppers...Part 1), I illustrated the adults of the Bronze (Lycaena hyllus) and Salt Marsh (Lycaena dospassosi) Coppers, two of the five species of Coppers that occur in Nova Scotia. I had planned on following up that post relatively quickly but, much to my surprise, I have not encountered the American Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, this year in any of the four locations where I found them last year. This photo, taken August 25, 2013, north of Debert, shows the ventral or underside of the wings. Males and females are identical.

This photo, taken on September 10, 2013, at the same location as the photo above, shows the dorsal or upperside of the wings. Note the tiny nub-like "tails" in this fresh specimen; older, faded specimens have usually lost their tails. American Coppers look very similar to female Bronze Coppers, except that they're quite a bit smaller and, when fresh, have those distinctive little tails.

The fourth species of Copper in Nova Scotia is the smallest one, the Bog Copper, Lycaena epixanthe. A dime would completely cover the butterfly shown here. As the colloquial name suggests, this Copper is found in bogs where its caterpillar hostplant, Cranberry (Vaccinium sp.), grows. This photo, taken July 7th this year south of Dollar Lake, shows the ventral or underside of the wings.

Male Bog Coppers have a purple wash to the dorsal (upperside) of the wings and have reduced dorsal spotting compared to the female (see photo below). Photo taken south of Dollar Lake on July 16th.

Female Bog Coppers have more spotting than their males and largely lack the purple wash to the dorsal (upperside) of the wings. This female was photographed northeast of Truro on July 23rd. Note that both sexes have some light orange spotting visible on the upperside of the hindwings near the tip of the abdomen which the similar but larger Salt Marsh Copper (Lycaena dospassosi) lacks. The fifth Copper species, which I have yet to encounter in Nova Scotia, the Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas), is a relatively recent discovery and is only known from Inverness County on Cape Breton Island. Maybe next year...!

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