Purple emperor - Apatura iris

Male upperside  

Family: Nymphalidae

Flight Time: June - August

Size: 62-74mm

Altitude: 50-1500m


Male underside  


A truly magnificent species, and not very easy to see. Early morning was the key here, this one was down on a path, and was particularly partial to the sweat on my foot, yummy!

Which at least meant I had plenty of time to get a nice underside shot !

The purple sheen on the topside only shows at certain angles, which was difficult to get with the camera, and impossible while on my foot, I think being double-jointed would have helped !

The lesser purple emperor Apatura ilia is the only other species with this profusion of purple, an additional orange spot on the forewing separates them though.


Fact File

Similar Species Foodplants Habitat Distribution


Sallow - Salix caprea


Purple emperor distribution

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Early Stages




All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.