Lycaena arota arota

Most populations of this strongly sexually-dimorphic species live in mesic habitats, usually mixed forest. Uncharacteristically for a Copper, territorial males perch in sunflecks often high in the trees. Both sexes visit flowers eagerly, especially those of Eriogonum nudum and Asters (and in Sierra Valley, alfalfa and yellow Ivesia). The nominate subspecies, which occurs at Gates Canyon, Washington, Lang and Donner (and has been taken low at Castle Peak), is more heavily marked and shaded than the "desert" subspecies, virginiensis.

Lycaena arota virginiensis

Named for Virginia City, Nevada, not for the State of Virginia. This subspecies is paler beneath and correspondingly more contrastingly-marked than nominate arota, which it replaces in the Great Basin. During the course of this study the population at Sierra Valley, which was nominate arota, went extinct and was subsequently replaced by a population more like virginiensis in appearance. It, in turn, declined in 2004 and was not seen in 2005 - perhaps it will switch back?

Lycaena cupreus

The Lustrous Copper is rather common at Lang and Donner, but rare at Castle Peak. It occurs along roadsides and trails and males often perch territorially in the middle of the road, where they are incredibly conspicuous. Both sexes visit flowers freely, including Aster and other small Composites, Clovers , Field Peppergrass and Pussy Paws. There is one brood in late spring-early summer, usually emerging and disappearing before Edith's Copper in the same places.

Lycaena editha

One of the most abundant butterflies at Donner. This species replaces the Great Copper above 4000' in the Sierra Nevada. It occurs along roadsides and on meadows but can often be found in clearings in Lodgepole Pine forest. Males are territorial perchers on or near the ground. Both sexes visit many flowers, especially Asters, Rabbitbrush, and Eriogonum. At Lang it often visits Pink Dogbane. Females are extremely variable in color and pattern above. There is one brood, from June to October.

Lycaena gorgon

A fairly common species in foothill canyons, reaching barely to mid-elevations. Usually in rocky sites in foothill woodland or chaparral, often commonest along roadsides where its host plants grow. Adults visit the flowers of the host (Wild Buckwheat of the Eriogonum nudum group) as well as (in some places) Woolly Sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum complex), Dogbane, Milkweed, etc. Males are territorial perchers and often sit on or near the ground.

Lycaena helloides

Thirty years ago this was a weedy species in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area but it is now scarce and largely confined to marshes and damp grasslands. It formerly bred on Polygonum "aviculare" (knotweed, "yard grass," a complex of several species not all of which seem to be used) in urban vacant lots, as well as on Dock (Rumex, including the introduced R. crispus). In its former incarnation it flew near sea level from March to late autumn, with multiple broods. Now it is rarely seen before June, and is only locally common in September and October.

Lycaena heteronea

Despite its astonishing sky-blue color (in the male), this is anatomically a perfectly normal Copper.

It occurs at Lang (somewhat irregularly), Donner and Basin-Castle Peaks. Males are territorial perchers, often on the host plant. Occurs in montane and alpine "rock garden" habitat.

Lycaena nivalis

On our transect found from 5000' up; common at Donner and Castle Peak. Roadsides, dry meadows, openings in forest; males perch on or near the ground in full sun with wings partly opened, and are territorial. Our populations have the lilac color and the black spotting on the ventral hindwing poorly developed. "Snowy" could refer to the pale underside or to the occurrence of the species at higher altitudes in the land of snow. The sexual dimorphism above is very strong.

Lycaena rubidus

A distinctive species of the East slope and northeastern California, oddly not present in Sierra Valley but recorded intermittently at Donner and certainly breeding there at times over the history of this project, though not every year. Found in moist, grassy areas with (usually native) Docks (Rumex), the host plants. Males perch on low vegetation; both sexes often visit Coyotemint, Eriogonum and yellow Composite flowers. One brood beginning in midsummer (July-August at Donner).

Lycaena xanthoides

Emmel, Emmel and Mattoon think the type material of this species was collected (by Lorquin) in or near Sacramento. The butterfly occurs in bottomland and tule marsh in the Sacramento Valley, but also in upland grassland in the North Coast Range--where it reaches above 6000' in the vicinity of Mendocino Pass. In the Sierra Nevada there are scattered foothill colonies, as at Washington, but it never gets above 3000' in the north. It is replaced at higher elevations by Edith's Copper.