The Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) is a small butterfly, about the size of a one-dollar coin (26mm). The upper wing has brownish-black margins with bright copper colouring from the centre to the bottom edge of the fore and hindwing. The very bottom edge of the upper hind wing (tornal area) has two dark triangular markings. The underwing is pale with dark markings and lines. Males and females have a slightly different hind wing shape and leg structure.
Eggs, Larvae and Pupae
Eltham Copper Look-a-likes
There are many butterflies that can be confused with Eltham Copper Butterflies. To make it easier Wetland Revival Trust have developed an ‘Eltham Copper Look-a-likes Fact Sheet ‘ that you can view below, save to your phone to use in the field or print off.
It is a close relative of the Dull Copper Paralucia pyrodiscus (Rosenstock 1885) and was recognised as a distinct sub-species by Crosby (1951).
Very Similar Species
Here are a few butterfly species which can look similar to ECB. Dont panic as different species have different habitat requirmenets so they will not all cooccur in the same location.
Grassland copper (Lucia limbaria) – occurs in a different habitat to ECB and they feed on Oxalis. sp. They have less copper on the upper hindwing and have a scale fringe chequered in white and brown. Generally, occurs in native grasslands and open woodlands wherever the larval native food plant Oxalis sp. occur s. Wingspan 24mm. Margins have chequered white and brown edge with rich copper central area.
- Larval food plant: Oxalis perennans and O. exilis.
- Attendant ant: Iridomyrmex sp (Meat ants).
Bright Copper (Paralucia aurifer) in wetter areas. Feeds on Sweet Bursaria but different attendant ant genus. Generally, occurs in higher rainfall areas. Wingspan 24mm. From above wings have brown margin with rich copper central area. Similar to ECB but have terminal small blue spots on bottom edge of hindwing.
- Larval food plant: Bursaria spinosa and occasionally Pittosporum in rainforest
- Attendant ant: Anonychomyrma sp. Unlikely to see Bright copper in Wimmera
Butterfly Australia APP Field Guide
There is a field guide on the Butterflies Australia APP. This app can also be used to submit any butterfly records you see. This is very useful data to monitor the distribution and numbers of butterflies. If you do see an ECB, use the Butterflies Australia app to record it. You may need a photograph to validate your findings.
Butterfly Hard Copy Field Guides
There are two great Butterfly Field Guides, one for Australia and one for Victoria.