The large copper butterfly has wings of a bright coppery-orange, fringed with black. The undersides are silvery-blue with black spots.

Emerging in July, the adult butterflies lays eggs on the leaves of great water dock. The caterpillars feed until September, on the undersides of the leaves; creating a characteristic 'window' since the upper part of the leaf is not eaten. They over the winter in this stage among the old leaves of the dock before resume feeding in the spring and then pupate in June.

First discovered from Dozen's Bank near Spalding in Lincolnshire in 1749, the Large Copper became extinct in the British Isles just short of 100 years later in 1851 and last recorded at Bottisham in Cambridgeshire. Its decline was the result of changing fenland management and, in particular, the draining of the fens.

Size and Family

  • Family: Coppers
  • Size: Small/Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 44-52mm

Conservation Status                  

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Extinct 
  • European status: Endangered

Caterpillar Foodplants

Caterpillars feed primarily on Water Dock (Rumex hydrolapathum).

Habitat

Historically in the British Isles, the Large Copper could be found in the fens of East Anglia and perhaps other damp areas of southern England, before becoming extinct.

Distribution

  • Countries: England (Now Extinct)
  • Never widespread, formerly found in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk and Somerset.
Large Copper (male/upperwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (male)

Large Copper (underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (underwing)

Large Copper (female/upperwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (female)

Large Copper (underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (underwing)

Large Copper (male/upperwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (male)

Large Copper (female/upperwing) - Tamás Nestor

Large Copper (female)

Large Copper (male & female) - Pete Withers

Large Copper (male & female)

Large Copper (egg) - Gilles San Martin

Large Copper (egg)


Similar species