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Purple Emperor Butterfly

Rare butterfly is being protected at Alice Holt Forest

APATURA IRIS .  Male purple emperor on Salix caprea .  Location: Alice Holt , Hampshire , England .

The Purple Emperor is one of Britain's most elusive butterflies, and we are privileged at Alice Holt to have the highest recorded population of these rare creatures in Hampshire.

 The butterflies rely on our forest’s large blocks of broadleaved woodland and dense scrub with its good supply of willow that provide ideal breeding habitat.

Our ongoing native woodland restoration work at Alice Holt Forest is helping to expand the wet woodland, which will create the right conditions to safeguard the butterfly’s habitat. We want to see this vital colony of butterflies thrive here and hope that visitors might catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures this summer.

Did you know?

  • Scientific name for the Purple Emperor butterfly  is Apatura iris
  • Wing Span Range is: 75-84mm
  • The Purple Emperor flies high in the tree-tops of well-wooded landscapes in central and southern England
  • The flight period spans June to August (with the peak in July)
  • Adults feed on aphid honeydew and tree sap
  • The males occasionally go down to the ground, usually in mid-morning, where they probe for salts either from road surfaces or from animal dung.

Source: Butterfly Conservation

Last updated: 1st June 2016

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.