A Copper Butterfly in Disguise

For all intents and purposes this looks like a blue butterfly (as in subfamily Polyommatinae)… it’s very, very blue after all.  But assumptions based on color would lead you down the incorrect road; as it turns out this butterfly is actually a species copper.  There are subtle difference in wing shape and probably venation, but when I first saw these butterflies I assumed they were a sub-species of Plebejus icarioides (which were also flying at this location on the Kaibab Plateau).  But then I began seeing female butterflies (below) interacting with these blues and then it dawned on me – blue copper - Lycaena heteronea austin (Lycaenidae: Lycaeninae)!

This subspecies was originally described in 1998 by the late, great George T. Austin as L. heteronea rutila.  Given however that rutila more or less = rutilus, it was later determined rutila was actually unavailable and the subspecies name was changed to austin in honor of George.

Grinter Lycaena heteroena austin

male Lycaena heteroena austin (Lycaenidae)

% title

female Lycaena heteroena austin

 

2 comments to A Copper Butterfly in Disguise

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>