Lycaena alciphron

Purple Shot Copper


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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Digne les Bains, France, May 2022

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2019

Field notes and information

The males have a dramatic violet mauve sheen, that is clearly visible in fresh specimens even when flying. It gives them a unique red-mauve effect as they fly rapidly above vegetation.

Identification & Similar species: The overall mauve colouration of the male is characteristic of this species. In the female, the spots are paired in the forewing post dicsal row. These are a gentle curve in the otherwise similar female purple edged copper, L. hippothoe.

Distribution & Flight: Throughout much of Europe, absent from the UK, Scandinavia, northwest France, much of southern Spain. Only present in north Africa in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Single brooded, usually in June and July, although I've found it from mid April in south France.

Habitat & Behaviour: Flowery meadows at low levels to high alpine meadows. Flies rapidly over low vegetation, frequently stopping to feed on flowers.

Variation: Several subspecies are decribed. heracleana: only known from the High Atlas, lacks the mauve sheen. gordius: from Spain and the Alps, is bright orange with reduced mauve-violet sheen. Large black spots on the upperside of the male. melibaeus: Balkans. Reduced violet sheen in the male, large.

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2022

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2022

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SE Serbia, June 2012

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2019

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2017

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S Greece, July 2018

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Montes Universales, Spain, July 2011

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Var, France, May 2004 (f)

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Granada, Spain, May 2019

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Sierra Nevada, Spain, July 2013

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Sierra Nevada, Spain, July 2013

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S Greece, July 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2016

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2017

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Var, France, May 2004 (f)

Female underside.