Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Gorgon Copper

Lycaena gorgon

Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae

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Females

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman
Male

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Icehouse Canyon, Mount Baldy, Los Angeles County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant and Jack N. Levy. 


Icehouse Canyon, Mount Baldy, Los Angeles County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant and Jack N. Levy. 

Mating pairs

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Juniper campground trail, Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, CA. 05/09/15. © Robert Gorman

Characteristics: Male--purplish brown on dorsal wing surfaces; female-brown with yellow checkering. Forewing length: 17-19 mm.

Similar Species: Closely resembles Lycaena xanthoides. The ventral wing surfaces of the Gorgon Copper have extensive black markings (with some red spots on the hindwing) which distinguish it from xanthoides. It is similar in appearance but larger than the Purplish Copper (Lycaena helloides).

Habitats, Behavior: A fast flyer, which often visits buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.) flowers.

Distribution: Populations are scattered and spotty through the Santa Ana Mountains. The butterfly is recorded primarily from the canyons.

Flight Period: One brood in Orange County flying from May to early July, but most common in June.

Larval Foodplants: Emmel and Emmel (1973) list the foodplant as Buckwheat (Eriogonum elongatum). In Orange County, this species is local in occurrence, but is usually common where found. A few plants have been found at Upper Newport Bay, although gorgon as yet is unrecorded from that location. E. elongatum is often found on roadcuts and gravelly streambed sites in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Other Remarks: Records range from approximately 2000 feet up to the highest point in Orange County, 5687 feet. I have captured Lycaena gorgon along water courses (Silvered Canyon) and on Cirsium sp. (thistle). The species is rarely common in the Santa Ana Mountains but is widely distributed.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.

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