Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Common Copper: Not just a comic character in Edwardian detective novels

Other people have all the colourful butterflies. We have the Common Copper (Lycaena salustius).
Male (notice double veins on all wings):

Female (notice single veins on the fore-wings, and the blue eyespots):

The caterpillars eat Muehlenbeckia complexa a.k.a. pohuehue, a.k.a. mattress vine which is the local member of the buckwheat / dock family... but unlike docks & sorrels & rhubarb it has no oxalic acid in the leaves and is no good at all in salads.

Liberated from its native environment, Muehlenbeckia has turned invasive and even now is swallowing San Francisco beneath its straggly tendrils:
Since 1995 or earlier, it has been a problematic invasive species in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area including Lands End, San Francisco and the Presidio of San Francisco and eradication requires 3–5 years monitoring and maintenance.
These people have a harrowing tale of struggle against the Vine from Hell. They seem to be winning but one thing I learned from Deathworld is that human hatred will only stimulate the plant's psychic defenses and cause it to mutate faster than we can fight it.

San Franciscans, you must learn to integrate with your ecosystem rather than wage war against it. Either that or import some Lycaena salustius caterpillars.


Another Kiwi said...

The Mudsnails will colonise the whole country, first. Bwah ha ha

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


So you upsidedownies are enjoying spring now?

Substance McGravitas said...

Maybe if California imports MORE Eucalyptus trees they'll suck enough water to strangle the Muehlenbeckia. Also catch fire and burn them to death.