Lycaena editha
Edith’s Copper

Family Description:
Note: Some authors refer to this species with the newer genus name Gaeides. Others consider it a subspecies of Lycaena xanthoides, the Gray Copper.

Although records are sparse, the caterpillar is described by some sources as being green to reddish and marked with a red band along the back, and with dark legs. Its average, full-grown length is 3/4 inch.
Adult: The butterfly is small to medium-sized, with a wingspan of 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 inches. There is a very short tail or point extending from the rear of the hindwing. The male is grayish brown on the upperside. The forewing is marked with one or several faint black spots; the hindwing has a thin orange line just in from the edge. The female is grayish brown and marked with patches of yellowish beige spotted with black. The hindwing has a thick yellowish orange band along the edge. Underneath, both sexes are very light brown to grayish white. The underside of the forewing is dotted with black, while the underside of the hindwing has larger, irregularly shaped brown spots.

This species ranges from southern Alberta south through parts of the Pacific Northwest into California, and through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the northern portions of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.


It can be found at middle and high elevations in meadows, forest openings, and along streams.


Caterpillar: Records are sparse, but caterpillars are reported to feed on the leaves of dock (Rumex spp.), and possibly on horkelia (Horkelia spp.) and cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from dogbane (Apocynum spp.) and yarrow (Achillea spp.).


There is one generation of caterpillars each summer. Each caterpillar undergoes four stages of growth, called instars. Little else about its life cycle is known. Adults fly from June through August and can often be observed in large numbers.


Males most likely perch to wait for receptive females.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ballmer, G. R. and G. F. Pratt. 1988. A survey of the last instar larvae of the Lycaenidae of California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27:1-81.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.