Monday, June 27, 2011

Purple-edged Copper/Violetrandet ildfugl

Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe)

In Denmark are  4 sorts of Lycaenas: Common Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Scarce Copper (Lycaena virgaureae), Purple-edged Copper (Lycaena hippothoe) and Sooty Copper (Lycaena tityrus) (now only found at the island Falster.) The Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron)  was only found twice in Denmark in 1939.

The Purple-edged Copper has a wing span of  28-26 mm. The male is red with purple (bluish) edges. It has a distinct mid-spot upon the front wing. The underside has no white spots. The female has copper-coloured front wings with black spots. Its back wings are dark brown with a reddish-brown seam band. The female is recognized from the female of the rare Purple-shot Copper by the outer row of spots of the front wing, which forms a regular curve in the mid-field.

The species of the Purple-edged Copper vary a little. The numbers and size of the spots on the underside might vary. It is not unusual to find specimen, where the spots of the underside are melted together into long black stripes. This is considered a genetic sign of weakness. The purple shade and the black edge of the male might vary. The upper side of the female has often only weak markings and sometimes no orange markings.

The Purple-edged Copper might be mistaken for the Scarce Copper  (Lycaena virgaureae). The male is however easily recognized by the distinct spot upon the middle of the wing - the Scarce Copper has no such spot. The female is recognized by the self-coloured dark back wing with one narrow seam band. The female of Scarce Copper has a very multicoloured back wing.

Purple-edged Copper
The Purple-edged Copper has only one generation, which flies from mid June till mid July with a short flying time of about 3 weeks. It is found in two types of habitats - in nutrient moors and meadows, usually with bushes and trees nearby - or in very dry pastures or even in old gravel pits. It overwinters as a half grown caterpillar in thick vegetation. The fodderplants of the caterpillar are Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), Sheep's sorrel (R. acetocella) and Common bistort (Polygonum bistorta). The full-grown caterpillar is not recognizable from other Lycaena-caterpillars like Common Copper and Scarce Copper.

The adult butterfly is very active in the middle of the day, seeking eagerly to various flowers in the habitat, like to Water Forget-me-not, Bulbous buttercup, Marsh thistle, Ragged Robin etc. The males often chase each other 3 or 5 at a time, and after a few days they look a little worn out. The females live a more quiet life, with oviposition and taking nourishment, they are not very shy but difficult to follow in their quick flight. The butterfly is often resting in the morning or evening in low vegetation with outspread wings facing the sun.

The Purple-edged Copper is red-listed and in decline in Denmark. It is still found in many places in North and Mid Jutland and in Northeast Zealand. But the species seems to have disappeared in most Danish islands and in the southernest part of Jutland. Upon Funen was the Purple-edged Copper considered extinct (but re-found on old places in 2008 and 2009).

The Purple-edged Copper is spread in Europe, except in Great Britain, Holland, western France and in large parts of the Mediterraneans.

The reasons for the decline in Denmark are fx draining, manuring or planting. The species is also very sensitive to over-grazing, fx in connection to nature care.

Protection of the species:
An extensive operation of the localities without use of manure should be maintained. A special care should be taken of the few preserved localities upon the islands.

Sources: Michael Stoltze: Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1998. Naturhistorisk Museum, Århus, Danmarks Fugle og Natur 2007, DMU; Rødlistedata, 2004.

photo Gammel Ry 25 Juni 2011: grethe bachmann

1 comment:

Thyra said...

Hello! Thank you very much I shall!