Main: (Nymphalidae / Apaturinae)
59.022 [B&F: 1585] Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) (Linnaeus, 1758)


Confined to deciduous woodland in central southern England, from Wiltshire and Hampshire in the west, through Surrey to West Sussex in the east, and northwards to Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire, with scattered colonies elsewhere. One of our largest and most spectacular butterflies, it can be remarkably elusive as it spends much of its life in the high canopy. A species of conservation concern, due to decline in distribution over the past forty years, although there has been signs of recovery in the past decade.

Widespread but thinly scattered in Hampshire, which can be reliably found in large woods such as Alice Holt, Bentley Wood and Botley Wood, but virtually absent from the New Forest in the past twenty years. Not recorded from the Isle of Wight to date. Wingspan 62-74 mm. Larva feeds on Goat Willow and Grey Willow.

Flightime guide

Phenology - Adult Records

Max records: 303
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Phenology - Larval Records

Max records: 1
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Distribution Map

Historical distribution at tetrad resolution
Click for density map

Record Density

As above but the larger the symbol, the greater the number of records
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