Lycaena hermes, Hermes Copper.

Shown here is a PD public domain image of Lycaena hermes, Hermes Copper. This photograph was taken by an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michael W. Klein Sr., in 1899.

Initially the range of Lycaena hermes covered most of California, but much habitat has been lost to development or natural disasters. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ECOS site indicates that this butterfly is a candidate for inclusion in the federal conservation register. Its range is now confined to San Diego County and parts of northern Mexico.

If you reside near San Diego County you may be able to help the Hermes Copper butterfly specie by planting the host plant Rhamnus crocea and any number of Eriogonum nectar plants. USDA data show that Eriogonum are native to most of the United States except a swath of states in the north east. We have several California native Eriogonum in our database. Some of these Eriogonum are also native to Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Three of them are shrubs - arborescens, crocatum, and giganteum. The remainder are perennials - fasciculatum, grande, latifolium, nudum, parishii, parvifolium, umbellatum var. polyanthum, and wrighti.

The host plant for Lycaena hermes is Rhamnus crocea, Redberry or Buckthorn, in the Rhamnacea family. This plant, native to both California and Arizona, is in cultivation. It as a medium-large drought tolerant evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 5-10 feet in sun or part shade. Birds will also come to the plant to feed on the fruit.

CC Creative commons and PD public domain images of Rhamnus crocea and a yellow-flowring Eriogonum are shown here as well.

Rhamnus crocea az mike in arizona cc
Rhamnus crocea pd
Eriogonum umbellatum 2
Lycaena hermes pd