Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Large Copper British Race:
Large Copper British Race
Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803)

Large Copper British Race egg.
  Large Copper British Race caterpillar.
  Large Copper British Race chrysalis
Large Copper British Race
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Lycaenidae: Subfamily Lycaeninae : Genus Lycaena: Species dispar:
The Large Copper is a beautiful butterfly with shiny metallic wings. The upperside of the male is primarily orange with dark brown edges while the female is darker above with larger dark edges and many dark spots. The underside of both are pale blue with orange marginal band on the hindwing and pale orange with pale blue marginal band on the forewing. See illustration for more information.

Unfortunately the British Native Race of the Large Copper (Lycaena dispar dispar) has been extinct for over 150 years.

It is thought that Wicken Fen in Cambridgehire may have held a population of the British Race of the Large Copper and several attempts have been made to re-introduce this species to the UK albeit using a different sub-species from mainland Europe.

In 1909, GH Verrall attempted to re-introduce the Large Copper to Wicken Fen using the race Lycaena dispar rutilus which he had collected from Berlin. In 1930, another attempt was made, this time using the race Lycaena dispar batavus collected from sites in Holland. In an attempt to improve the chances of this re-introduction, many Water Dock plants were introduced to Verrall’s Fen between 1929-30. The introduction of Butterfly and Foodplant was initially sucessfull with the species spreading to Adventurers’ Fen. Unfortunately, Adventurers’ Fen was drained in the 1940's... subsiquently causing the extinction of the species again.

No other attempts have been made to re-introduce the Large Copper to the UK although research is currently being undertaken in order to acertain the feasibility of another re-introduction attempt at Wicken Fen along with similar research in the Norfolk Broads. It does however need to be made clear that the original native British Species can never be replaced and is lost forever.
Fenland with a good population of Water Dock grows in open sunny conditions the larval foodplant.
The British Race which is extinct originally occured in the Fens of Lincolnshire Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Huntingdonshire and Somerset. Due to the extensive drainage of these areas, this species became extinct in Britain in 1864. The last individuals were recorded at Whittlesey Mere in Huntingdonshire and Bottisham Fen, Cambridgeshire.

Outside the UK, the Large Copper can be found locally in central Europe as north as southern Finland, and east in to Asia. There are three races: dispar formerly in Britain, batavus in the Netherlands, both of which are single brooded and rutilus which is double brooded. The latter is declining in many European countries while batavus is reduced to two sites.
Where to see the Large Copper British Race in the British Isles
Other notes
A species which is unlikely to be encountered in Europe even less-likely in the UK unless a re-introduction of a non-native sub-species is sucessful.

The following areas in the UK currenty have Biodiversity Action Plans which specifically targets threatend species such as the Silver-spotted Skipper as a response to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Norfolk.
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Large Copper British Race in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
Regionally Extinct Regionally Extinct

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Regionally Extinct Regionally Extinct

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
UK status
Larval foodplants
Water Dock (Rumex hydrolapathum) for both single-brooded races dispar and batavus. Other docks are used by rutilus in continental Europe.
British subspecies
Lycaena dispar ssp. dispar 

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Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
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Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 not applicable
UK Population trend 1976-2004 not applicable

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status not applicable (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map

Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Large Copper British Race except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Large Copper British Race on the NBN Gateway web site.
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For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Large Copper British Race can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Large Copper British Race can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Large Copper British Race
There are 0 photographs of the Large Copper British Race in our stock photo library.
Aberrations and forms
There are 4 named aberrant forms of the Large Copper British Race currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. bilineata - Tutt 1906
ab. cuneigera - Tutt 1906
ab. neurata - Tutt 1906
ab. unilineata - Tutt 1906