Large Copper (Lycaena dispar)

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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

20328_male_Rhône_30May10 20314_female_Rhône_30May10 20353_female_Rhône_30May10 20304_female_Rhône_30May10

The male upperside is a resplendent bright coppery-red very similar to the Scarce Copper (L. virgaureae), although dispar has small and narrow but distinct black discal marks on both the upf and uph. Virgaureae sometimes has very faint marks in these positions, but is usually a butterfly of the mountains - Lafranchis says minimum 500m altitude but exceptionally can be lower - whereas dispar has an altitude range of 0-400m, so it is hard to imagine where they could geographically overlap. However, I have it on good authority that dispar flies at 800m altitude in Puy-de-Dôme.


The female upperside has the “typical” female copper pattern on the upf and is significantly larger than the male.

Prior to 2010 I had only seen dispar on a few occasions in the département of Dordogne. In 2010 I visited a site in the Rhône département where dispar was flying, the females being freshly emerged and the males showing slight signs of wear.


I subsequently learned in October that the field in which they had been flying had been mowed. Whether this is a regular feature and whether this has been undertaken a the wrong time of year, I do not know. Maybe they breed nearby and can recolonise the mowed field, but I would not be optimistic about this. Reports from this site in 2023 show that dispar has survived and, to some extent, thrived at this site. Welcome news indeed.

ref sex


alt. m
20328 M

a male, showing slight signs of wear, but still fiery orange.

20314 F

a female, quite typical in my limited experience.

20353 F

a female, quite lightly marked in comparison to 20314.

20304 F

a female, nice contrast between the orange and grey.