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Monday, 6 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015 - Butterflies 'E'

E - Purple Emperor

The male butterfly gives this species its name.


Male Purple Emperor
Its upper wings have a purple sheen; the iridescent wings appear purple when viewed from a certain angle.

The female is slightly larger with a 3 inch wing span; her wings are a duller colour.

Female Purple Emperor
She lays her eggs on the leaves of low growing goat willow. I'll confess I had not heard of this tree by this name or as sallow.

February catkins of the Pussy Willow
Apparently the goat willow got its name because goats used to browse on it. To me it has always been pussy willow - it's so soft to the touch.

The caterpillars (larvae) are green with two horns as you may be able to see in the plate from a book published in the 1840s.

Plate from British Entomology
The Purple Emperor spends most of its time high in oak trees when it flies in July and August. The male will descend to suck juices from rotting carcasses. They may, if your lucky, land on you hand to drink your sweat.

It's one of the rarest British butterflies occurring in the South-East in a few woods in a triangle formed by Oxford, Lyme Regis and Eastbourne.


Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

Photo Attributions:
  • Male Purple Emperor (Aptura iris); by Fabelfroh, 2 July 2006 - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Female Purple Emperor; 22 July 2007 in Romania, by Xulescu-g - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • February catkins; 11 Feb 2008, geograph.org.uk, by Colin Smith - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • British Entomology, Vol 5, Plate 38, by John Curtis, 1840s - Public Domain



8 comments:

Maria said...

I like that plate from the British Entomology. I think I saw similarly themed postcards when I visited the Singapore Museum but that was for flowers. Now I wanted to go back and get a few for myself. I realized I really like it for the collection despite the cost haha.

A Quiet Corner said...

Great pix! I am anxiously awaiting warmth, butterflies and hummingbirds....soon, I hope....:)JP

orneryswife said...

Stunning photos! What a fun theme you have chosen for A to Z. Thank you for visiting me. :)
tm

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - lovely poem ... and thanks for the mention of Eastbourne!! It's a gorgeous butterfly with a magnificent name ..

Let's hope we have a good season so that plenty of butterflies can have healthy breeding times .. cheers Hilary

Bish Denham said...

I was going to say, that tree looked like pussy willow to me as well. Lovely looking butterfly.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow, it's beautiful!

Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

Rob Z Tobor said...

I have not seen a Purple Emperor in years. But I live to far West now I guess if they have become that rare.

Rob Z Tobor

Jo said...

Pretty butterfly again. Funny how purple doesn't show up well in blogs, I couldn't show amethysts some years ago they looked blue as did my purple bowling balls.

This is a real learning experience for me, I never knew much about butterflies in the UK, or here for that matter.