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The Large Copper occurs in marshy habitats and on the peaty banks of lakes, rivers and streams and more to the East also on waste lands. Nectar plants are important, especially for the females. Eggs are laid on docks (Rumex spp.) like Rumex crispus, Rumex obtusifolius and Rumex hydrolapathum, but never on sorrels (like Rumex acetosa or Rumex acetosella). The young caterpillars first eat from the underside of the leaves, making the characteristic ‘windows’. Later caterpillars feed on the whole leaf. They hibernate when half-grown between withered leaves at the base of the foodplant. They are sometimes associated with ants (Myrmica rubra and Lasius niger). The Large Copper has several subspecies in Europe. The largest of them, Lycaena dispar batavus, is confined to the extensive wetlands in the north of The Netherlands. The males of this subspecies occupy territories in the warmest places in depressions in the vegetation. Their caterpillars feed only on Water Dock (Rumex hydrolapathum). There are two smaller (and less threatened) subspecies, Lycaena dispar rutilus and Lycaena dispar carueli that use also other docks as foodplants. The subspecies Lycaena dispar batavus has one generation a year and the other subspecies one, two or sometimes even three. Habitats: humid grasslands and tall herb communities (26%), water-fringe vegetation (14%), fens, transition mires and springs (11%), mesophile grasslands (8%), broad-leaved deciduous forests (7%), blanket bogs (5%), dry calcareous grasslands and steppes (5%).

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© Chris van Swaay

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