Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 1/4-2 inches (3.2 - 5.08 cm). Upperside of male is iridescent coppery-brown; female forewings are yellow-orange with black spots. The forewing underside of both sexes is orange with black spots. The hindwing underside is grayish-white with black spots and a broad orange outer edge.
Egg: White or green-white. Turban-shaped. Placed on the undersides of leaves, along stems, and sometimes on seedheads. Possibly the overwintering stage.
Caterpillar: Velvety yellow-green with a dark green stripe. These caterpillars have a distinctive eating-pattern, chewing narrow grooves into host plant leaves. On tougher leaves, they only scrape the surface, creating a windowpane effect.
Chrysalis: Green or light tan with dark speckles. Sometimes suffused with red. May be attached to host plants.
The Bronze Copper is a "fugitive" species: it disappears quickly as plant succession progresses past its earliest stages. Its habitats are almost completely dependent on some form of disturbance for creation and maintenance. Although many butterfly species are dependent on transient habitats, Bronze Coppers require early succession wetland sites, a particularly difficult niche to find.
Alabama's only known Bronze Copper colonies is dependent on the fortunes of some low-lying cotton fields. When the fields lie barren, dock plants pop up, and so do Bronze Coppers. In years that cotton is cultivated, the dock is replaced, and the coppers seem to vanish. The scenario is frustrating, but without the cycle of disturbance and renewal, plant succession would progress to stages unfavorable to this wide-ranging but very exacting butterfly species.
In north Alabama, sites that contain stands of Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) or other docks should be carefully searched for Bronze Coppers.
A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat.
The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.
The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.
The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
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Early succession, low wet areas. In Alabama, in or near fallow fields.
Various plants in the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), especially docks (Rumex spp.) are used in other parts of the range.
No host plant is yet verified in Alabama.