Scarce Copper (Lycaena virgaureae)

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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.

23154_male_Valais, Switzerland_26Jul10 8453_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07 18613_male_Isère_14Jul09
3117_female_Alpes-Maritimes_25Jul06 22957_female_Valais, Switzerland_24Jul10 23218_female_Valais, Switzerland_26Jul10
39148_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15 42008_female_Savoie_25Jul16 38248_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul15
 
27554_male_Valais, Switzerland_21Jul11 26603_female_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11  

A breathtakingly beautiful mountain butterfly. The burning red-orange male upperside, especially in fresh specimens (most visible in 18613), makes this one of the most strikingly coloured butterflies, the orange framed by jet black margins which extend slightly along the veins, and small marginal spots on the uph which are usually joined to the margins. The male virgaureae is superficially very similar to the male of the high altitude subspecies eurydame of the Purple-edged Copper (L. hippothoe). The female is marked in the "usual" female copper pattern.

The underside is quite distinctive, with a row of black-centred white spots of varying size in the unh post-discal band. It’s name is completely inaccurate as it isn’t scarce at altitude, and in many areas it is quite common.

 

In the higher reaches of the southern Alpes, the subspecies montanus occurs. The male has wider black borders and the female has rather suffused markings.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
23154 M

a male, probably of the subspecies montanus, judging by the width of the black borders.

1570
8453 M

a male, also very probably of the subspecies montanus, for the same reason as 23154.

2200
18613 M

a male, perhaps showing a little more of the fiery orange colour that makes this butterfly so spectacular in flight. This is probably of the nominate species, not the subspecies montanus.

1230
3117 F

a standard female of the nominate species, slightly lighter markings than indicated in the books.

1800
22957 F

a very dusky female of the subspecies montanus, with heavily suffused markings.

1800
23218 F

a female of the subspecies montanus, described in T&L as "variant" (whatever that means).

2090
39148 F a female, fairly typical. 1600
42008 F a female, rather darker then 39148, but not as dusky as 22957. 1400
38238 M a male underside, with rather lightly marked white spots. 1230
27554 M a male underside, unusually pale. 2160
26603 F a female underside, by contrast extremely red. 1400

 

23154_male_Valais, Switzerland_26Jul10

 

8453_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul07

 

18613_male_Isère_14Jul09

 

3117_female_Alpes-Maritimes_25Jul06

 

22957_female_Valais, Switzerland_24Jul10

 

23218_female_Valais, Switzerland_26Jul10

 

39148_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

42008_female_Savoie_25Jul16

 

38248_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul15

 

27554_male_Valais, Switzerland_21Jul11

 

26603_female_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11