Sunday 26th June 2011

Sometimes searching for butterflies, particularly spectacular species such as the two Purple Emperors, can be frustrating, but today was an exception! After dull and gloomy weather on Saturday and on Sunday morning, suddenly the sun came out…and the butterflies with it. Already managing to identify both Purple and Lesser Purple Emperors from the moving car, I stopped at my favourite place in a large forest in Northern France, and was treated to the spectacle of amazing numbers of the two Emperors, White Admiral, Silver-washed and Lesser Marbled Fritillaries, Commas and unbelievable numbers of the normally solitary Large Tortoiseshell. I also saw mating Ilex Hairstreaks, my first record for this area, but they did not pose to be filmed.

Many people believe that butterflies sip nectar, but this is not true of all species. The Emperors, Tortoiseshells, Commas, etc, moisten the gravel with their own saliva, and then suck up the minerals from the ground. They also feed on animal dung and dead animals, which is shocking to some people! I have never seen a Purple Emperor of either species feeding on a flower.

Leave a Reply