Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

21498_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul10 - eurydame 30363_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul12 - eurydame 05_23-32_male_Ariège_23Jul05 - hippothoe
37688_male_Doubs_13Jun15 - intermediate? 38617_female_Pyrénées-Orientales_17Jul15 - hippothoe 26317_female_Alpes-Maritimes_05Jul11 - eurydame
26795_female_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame 41777_female_Savoie_21Jul16 - eurydame 17227_male_Alpes-Maritimes_04Jul09 - eurydame
30354_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul12 - eurydame 21747_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 - eurydame 37659_male_Doubs_13Jun15 - intermediate?
21736_female_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 - intermediate form? 26758_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame 26765_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame
   
37957_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_26Jun15 - eurydame    

There are two forms in France, the nominate form hippothoe, which is found in the Pyrénées at a range of 400-1800m and in lowland areas in the east of France, the male showing the purple colouration that gives it its name (just about visible on 05_23-32), and eurydame, the Alpine subspecies, which has an altitude range of 1200-2500m. The two subspecies do not overlap geographically, although Lafranchis says that intermediate forms occur where the ranges of the two subspecies meet. Eurydame lacks the purple flush of the male hippothoe and often occurs with the Scarce Copper (L. virgaureae) where the males of eurydame and virgaureae look quite similar and need a close look to identify them.

The female uppersides of hippothoe and eurydame are very different, as indicated by 38617 and 26317/26795. The female hippothoe has the classic copper pattern, and eurydame is almost completely brown with only a discoidal spot and a smaller cell spot visible.

 
ref sex

observations

alt. m
21498 M

a freshly emerged male, with the beautiful fiery red-orange intact. The thorax body hairs appear to have purple tinge to me, but maybe I am just looking for any hint of purple.

1875
30363 M a reasonably fresh male, showing the distinct copper colouring. 1600
05_23-32 M

an old photograph of a male hippothoe nominate form, showing the slight purple flush at the base of the uph.

 
37688 M a male, which appears to be something of a slight intermediate form, perhaps closer to eurydame than hippothoe, but showing a suggestion of purple at the base of the hindwing. 37659 is the underside. 1150
38617 F a female of the nominate form hippothoe, from the Pyrénées. 1820
26317 F a female eurydame, reasonably fresh as indicted by the white fringes, so the dull colouration is not due to wear. This appearance is typical of female eurydame. As such, it bears  a strong resemblance the the Alpine subspecies subalpinus of the Sooty Copper (L. tityrus); the key differentiator is that eurydame has only two black upf marks while subalpinus has a clear post-discal series. 2100
26975 F a female eurydame, with a mild orange flush on the upf and a series of orange lunules on the uph margins, together with a few blue scales in the submarginal regions. The spider's web is just a parallax effect. 1700
41777 F another female eurydame, illustrating the range of variability of the female of this species. 2090
17227 M

a male eurydame underside, quite typical in my experience, with a slight unf orange flush.

1875
30354 M a male eurydame, with a very clean grey ground colour and just a few hints of orange. 1600
21747 M

a male eurydame, a very appealingly clean underside with only the faintest of an orange flush on the forewing.

1900
37659 M a male, the underside of 37688. 1150
21736 F

a female, which I know for certain as I saw the upperside. Also the slight rounding of the hindwing at the anal angle (c.f. 21747) is further evidence. The heavy black spots suggest hippothoe but the colouring suggests eurydame. I suspect this may be an intermediate form (a hybrid) occurring at the border of the ranges of these two subspecies. Breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity.

1900
26758 PAIR a mating pair, the female on the right. See also 26765. 1700
26765 F the same mating pair as 26758, the sun had come out and the female opened up to get the warmth of the sun's rays. I have noted that whenever this happens, it is nearly always the female that opens up. 1700
37957 PAIR a mating pair, the female on the left, slightly browner and rounder in wing shape. 1700

 

21498_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul10 - eurydame

 

30363_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul12 - eurydame

 

05_23-32_male_Ariège_23Jul05 - hippothoe

 

37688_male_Doubs_13Jun15

 

38617_female_Pyrénées-Orientales_17Jul15 - hippothoe

 

26317_female_Alpes-Maritimes_05Jul11 - eurydame

 

26795_female_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame

 

41777_female_Savoie_21Jul16

 

17227_male_Alpes-Maritimes_04Jul09 - eurydame

 

30354_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul12 - eurydame

 

21747_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 - eurydame

 

37659_male_Doubs_13Jun15

 

21736_female_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 - intermediate between hippothoe and eurydame?

 

26758_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame

 

 

26765_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 - eurydame

 

37957_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_26Jun15 - eurydame