Sooty Copper - Lycaena tityrus

Scientific Name: Lycaena tityrus (syn. Heodes tityrus).

English Name: Sooty Copper.

French Name: L'Argus myope (='the nearsighted argus') or le Cuivré fuligineux (='the sooty copper').

5 Key Characters:
  • yellowy grey underside with black spots.
  • smallish (forewing 14 - 16 mm long).
  • Upperside of the male dull brown with a border of small orange crescents.
  • Upperside of the female brown with a large bright tawny orange (fauve) patch with black spots on the forewing and a border of orange crescents on the hind wing.
  • markings tend to vary from region to region.
Lookalikes: Females could be mistaken for the Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas, but this species has a small tail, a orange band (not just crescents) on the upperside of the hindwing and only faint markings on the underside of the hind wing.

Habitat: Grassland and flower rich crop margins. Usually avoids dry environments, except in the autumn.

Caterpillar: small and green, June - April, overwintering as a caterpillar.

Host Plant: Wild Sorrels of various species, especially Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa.

Flight Period: April-May-June-July-August-September-October-November.

Status: Common (the commonest Copper species in the Claise Valley and the Brenne). Quite localised, but abundant. This is a conspicuous and easy to see species in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
Photographs numbered from left to right and top to bottom. 1 - 8 & 11 - 12 females in damp pasture in the Brenne, May. 9 - 10 details as above, but a male.

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