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Butterfly taxonomy (classification) The skippers The swallowtails The whites The hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Includes the Duke of Burgundy. The nymphalids, fritillaries and browns. Includes the Monarch.
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 24-Jun-08 (25) {REARED}
Wingspan
Male: 44 - 48mm
Female: 46 - 52mm
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper

Lycaena dispar
Number: 61.002
B&F No.: 1562
Family:Lycaenidae (Leach, 1815)
Subfamily:Lycaeninae (Leach, 1815)
Tribe:Lycaenini (Leach, 1815)
Genus:Lycaena (Fabricius, 1807)
Subgenus: 
Species:dispar (Haworth, 1803)
Subspecies:dispar (Haworth, 1803)
 rutilus (Werneburg, 1864)
 batavus (Oberthür, 1923)
Extinct
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  Introduction  

The Large Copper was first discovered from Dozen's Bank near Spalding in Lincolnshire in 1749. It became extinct in the British Isles in 1851 and was last recorded at Bottisham in Cambridgeshire. There is no doubt that the demise of this most spectacular butterfly was the result of changing fenland management and, in particular, the draining of the fens. On the continent this species lives in discrete colonies ranging from a few dozen adults to many hundred.

There have been several introduction attempts, the first at Woodwalton Fen, in Huntingdonshire, in 1927. On several occasions, the population had to be subsequently re-introduced or supplemented from captive stock. The British subspecies, dispar, was endemic to the British Isles and reintroductions have tended to use stock from the Netherlands, which is of the rare subspecies batavus. Unfortunately, all reintroduction attempts have ultimately failed. A project is being undertaken at Keele University to determine the feasibility of a Large Copper re-establishment programme in the British Isles. This species is extinct in the British Isles. Although the species was never widespread, it is believed that its former range also included Lincolnshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk and Somerset.

Lycaena dispar ssp. dispar Historic Specimens

This species was first defined in Haworth (1803) as shown here (type locality: Cambridgeshire, England). The nominate subspecies is extinct.


Male
Large Copper [Richard Lewington]
Male Underside
Photo © Richard Lewington
Female
Female Underside

Lycaena dispar ssp. rutilus Historic Specimens

This subspecies was first defined in Werneburg (1864) as shown here (type locality: Germany). This subspecies was introduced in the British Isles although this was ultimately unsuccessful.


Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus 3
Male
Photo © Cristian Mihai
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) May 26th 2009
Male Underside
Photo © traplican
Large Copper, female, ssp rutilus - Aggtelek - Hungary - 16-June-09
Female
Photo © Denise
Large copper, ssp. rutilus, female, 18th June 2013, Switzerland
Female Underside
Photo © Padfield

Lycaena dispar ssp. batavus Historic Specimens

This subspecies was first defined in Oberthür (1923) (type locality: Netherlands). This subspecies was introduced in the British Isles although this was ultimately unsuccessful. In describing this subspecies, Oberthür simply stated that the Dutch race should be given a name to indicate its origin. In order to distinguish it from the English race he gave it the name batavus (Batavia is a former name for Holland). According to Emmet (1990) this subspecies differs from the nominate subspecies as follows:

1. On the hindwing underside, the white-ringed black spots are smaller, especially in the basal area.

2. On the hindwing underside, the orange band is narrower and less squared at its apical extremity.


Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 29-Aug-08 (2) {REARED}
Male
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 24-Jun-08 (16) {REARED}
Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 26-Jun-08 (1) {REARED}
Female
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jun-08 (2) {REARED}
Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

  Phenology  

This species has one generation each year in the British Isles with the adults emerging in July and flying into August.

Lycaena dispar ssp. batavus


The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.


  Habitat  

In the British Isles this species inhabited the East Anglian fens and probably other areas within southern England before becoming extinct.

  Larval Foodplants  

The primary larval foodplant is Water Dock (Rumex hydrolapathum).

  Nectar Sources  

Description to be completed

  Imago  

This species only flies in sunshine and therefore relies on good weather to allow it to fly and, therefore, court, mate and lay eggs. The males set up loose territories and will intercept any creature that flies past. If a virgin female is encountered then the two will typically settle, and the male will flap his wings for a short time before mating takes place.

The scientific name of this species, dispar, refers to the disparity between the two sexes. The upperside of the male is generally of a uniform copper colour with little patterning, where as the upperside of the female not only has distinct markings on the forewings, but also has a very different markings on the hindwing which are more dark brown than copper in colour.

Lycaena dispar ssp. dispar Historic Specimens

Large Copper [Richard Lewington]
Photo © Richard Lewington

Lycaena dispar ssp. rutilus Historic Specimens

Large Copper, female, ssp rutilus - Aggtelek - Hungary - 16-June-09
Photo © Denise
Large Copper, male, ssp rutilus - Aggtelek - Hungary - 16-June-09
Photo © Denise
Large Copper - imago - Foret-de-la-Double, Dordogne, France - Aug-02 (2) [Pete Smith]
Photo © Pete Smith
Large Copper - imago - Foret-de-la-Double, Dordogne, France - Aug-02 [Pete Smith]
Photo © Pete Smith
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) May 26th 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) May 26th 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) Aug 13th 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (female). SE Moravia (CZE) Aug 28th 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) Jun 21st 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus (male). SE Moravia (CZE) Jul 31st 2009
Photo © traplican
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus 1
Photo © Cristian Mihai
Photos taken in southern part of Romania
17-May-2009
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus 2
Photo © Cristian Mihai
Photos taken in southern part of Romania
22-May-2009
Large Copper - Lycaena dispar rutilus 3
Photo © Cristian Mihai
Photos taken in southern part of Romania
22-May-2010
Male, Silesia, Czech Republic, 2012-07-30
Photo © The Annoying Czech
Large Copper, August 17 2012 (Silesia, CZE)
Photo © The Annoying Czech
17-Aug-2012
Large copper, ssp. rutilus, female, 18th June 2013, Switzerland
Photo © Padfield
18-Jun-2013

Lycaena dispar ssp. batavus Historic Specimens

Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 09-Oct-05 (8) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Oct-2005
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 16-Oct-04 (14) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Oct-2004
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 16-Oct-04 (16) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Oct-2004
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 23-Jun-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 24-Jun-08 (9) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 24-Jun-08 (16) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 24-Jun-08 (25) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jun-08 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 26-Jun-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
26-Jun-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 29-Aug-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Aug-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 29-Aug-08 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Aug-2008
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 23-Jun-09 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jun-2009
Large Copper - imago - Thatcham - 23-Jun-09 (5) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jun-2009

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

  Ovum  

The white eggs are laid singly on the foodplant, with several eggs sometimes being found together on the same leaf. These are typically on medium-sized plants that are away from water and mixed in with the surrounding vegetation. The eggs hatch in approximately 2 weeks.


Large Copper - ovum - Thatcham - 12-Jul-08 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
12-Jul-2008
Large Copper - ovum - No location - No date [REARED] [Arnold Johnson]
Photo © Arnold Johnson
Large Copper - ovum - Thatcham - 17-Jul-12 (1) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper - ovum - Thatcham - 17-Jul-12 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Copper - ovum - Thatcham - 17-Jul-12 (3) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles

  Larva  

The larva does not eat its eggshell on hatching and proceeds to feed on the underside of the leaf. As for its close relative, the Small Copper, the larva forms a small groove on the underside, leaving the upper surface of the leaf intact. The larva rests in this groove when not feeding. After the second moult, the larva creates holes in the leaf surface and moves to the midrib of the leaf prior to moulting. The larva also overwinters while in the stage of development, at the base of the foodplant, typically within leaf litter. It has been shown that the larva is not prone to flooding in the fens and can survive submerged for over 2 months. There are 3 moults in total, this stage lasting between 10 and 11 months.


Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 04-Oct-04 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Oct-2004
Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 11-May-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2008
Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 14-May-09 (4) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
14-May-2009
Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 22-Aug-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
22-Aug-2008
Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 28-Aug-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
28-Aug-2008
Large Copper - larva - Thatcham - 17-Jul-12 (1) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Newly-emerged larva

  Pupa  

The pupa is attached head-down to a stem of the foodplant, attached by a silken girdle and the cremaster. This stage lasts between 1 and 6 weeks, depending on temperature.


Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 06-Oct-04 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Oct-2004
Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 11-Jun-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-Jun-2008
Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 11-Oct-04 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-Oct-2004
Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 20-Jun-09 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jun-2009
Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 20-Jun-09 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jun-2009
Large Copper - pupa - Thatcham - 30-May-09 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
30-May-2009

  Similar Species  

No similar species found.

  Videos  

Video © David Breiter
Ohnivá?ek ?erno?árný - Lycaena dispar

  Sites  

No sites found.

  Conservation Status  

No conservation action is relevant for this species.

  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Emmet (1990) Emmet, A.M. and Heath, J.: The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. 1990.
Haworth (1803) Haworth, A.H.: Lepidoptera Britannica. 1803.
Oberthür (1923) Oberthür, C.: Etudes de Lépidoptérologie comparée. 1923.
Werneburg (1864) Werneburg, A.: Beiträge zur Schmetterlingskunde. 1864.

  Copyright © Peter Eeles 2002-2014
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