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Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas)

Description: A small butterfly that is dark brown above with dark spots and a small wavy orange band at the posterior corner of the hindwing. The hindwing is tan brown below with small black spots and a wavy orange submaginal line. The forewing is orangish-brown with black spots. In males the upperside has a purple sheen. Dorcas Copper is similar in appearance to Salt Marsh Copper, which is much larger, and more yellow than brown on the underside. Wingspan: 19 to 27 mm.

Maritime Distribution: Prior to the Atlas the species was known only from Carleton and York Counties in New Brunswick. For Atlas results click here.

Provincial Ranks: NB: S1. NS: S1?. PEI: -.

Flight Period: Late July and August.

Host Plant: Shrubby Cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa).

Subspecies: Populations in New Brunswick are treated as subspecies claytoni (often referred to as Clayton’s Copper). The population in Nova Scotia hasn’t been assigned a subspecies. Dorcas Copper subspecies are poorly defined; their validity is currently being studied.

Notes: This butterfly is restricted to lake borders and alkaline fens where the vegetation is dominated by its host plant. Where Dorcas Copper does occur it is usually quite common, and due to its propensity to visit the flowers of Shrubby Cinquefoil, easy to observe.

The first Nova Scotia record for this species was made in 2010, the first year of the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas.