Lepidoptera The Large Copper Butterfly – Polyommatus Dispar

Our next genus contains only two British species. The first of these-the Large Copper-was once a common insect at Whittlesea in Cambridgeshire, and in some of the fens of Huntingdonshire, but is now feared to be quite extinct, as none have been seen for many years. The last capture was made in 1847 in Huntingdonshire. However, it may turn up again; and even if it does not, it would be a pity to allow the memory of so fine an insect to die out; so we find room to figure it (Butterflies PhotoPlate VI, fig. 8), and append a few remarks.

There is a very great difference between the male and the female. The former is of a brilliant copper hue, and all the wings have a black margin and a black streak near the middle. The female is larger; and the coppery colour is much redder. The black border of the fore wings is wider, and there are also several large black spots on these wings. The hind wings are almost entirely covered with black, with the exception of a broad coppery band near the hind margin.

The food plant of the caterpillar appears to have been the water dock (Rumex Hydrolapathum), on which the eggs were laid late in the summer. It is probable that the caterpillar was a hybernator, seeking its winter shelter while still very young; and it was full fed in June.

Its colour was green, with a darker stripe of the same colour on the back; and the chrysalis was attached by anal hooks and a cord round the body.