When watching butterflies, some lepidopterists have their personal favourites; the one they impatiently await the emergence of every year. For many, that butterfly is the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris).
I confess that I much prefer to watch the understated elegance of a White Admiral (Limenitis camilla) as it glides and flits around the treetops with a ghostlike nebulous quality and I also delight in watching the pugnacious antics of the Purple Hairstreak (Quercusia quercus) as males battle with each other around the oak canopy during the early evening.
In reality however, we love them all and there is no denying that the brash and showy Purple Emperor (A.iris) is indeed a magnificent beastie and one that I had not caught up with for several years. On an early morning start during the last week of June, Bob Eade and I met up with Mark Colvin for a walk around the woods of his local patch on the West Sussex and Surrey borders. We were in for a treat.
Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) (female)
Purple Emperor (A.iris) (male)
Purple Emperor (A.iris) (female) (imbibing moisture at a stream edge)