Lycaena hippothoe

Purple Edged Copper


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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Vaud, Switzerland, June 2007

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N Norway, July 2022

Field notes and information

Some males of this species can be absolutely stunning, a rich deep orange-red with dramatic irredescent purple flushes.

Identification & Similar species: The upperside of the males is distinctive. Can be difficult to separate from the underside from the purple shot copper L. alciphron and the females can be difficult too. The spots in the forewing post discal row are paired in alciphron and form a gentle arc in hippothoe.

There is a transition zone in the middle Balkans across Serbia and Bulgaria where this species overlaps with the Balkan copper, L. candens. The species are very similar, distribution being a key factor in identification. That species is larger however and the male genetalia are distinct.

Distribution & Flight: Alps and northwards, central France and northern Spain from roughly 500m up to high alpine levels. It flies in a single brood in the west and north and two broods in eastern Europe.

Habitat & Behaviour: Damper meadows with flowers.

Variation: Several subspecies are named. hippothoe: sports the purple flush in the male. eurydame: from the Alps lacks the purple flush. Females are generally very dark brown, lacking any orange. stiberi: from central Scandinavia and north is brighter orange.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2009

Form eurydame, lacking purple hues.

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2011

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2021

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2019

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Valais, Switzerland July 2014

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2021

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Vaud, Switzerland, July 2021

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2021

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2019

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, June/ July 2007

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2015