The Purple Emperor is neither the rarest, nor the largest of Britain’s resident butterflies. So how has this elusive insect managed to maintain such a hold on the imagination of generations of the UK’s amateur and not-so-amateur lepidopterists?
His elusive nature is, perhaps, part of the appeal. This is not an insect you will stumble upon, unless you are blessed with extraordinary luck. He must be sought out, in suitable country, and even there the untrained eye may totally fail to spot him unless he knows how to look.
And yet, this is not another humble brown retiring beast, easily confused with many similar dingy species, but a soaring rush of colour and spectacle – a flash of black, purple and white that sets the heart beating faster. He flies higher than most, and maintains a lofty perch during the middle of the day, as befits his regal reputation – so if you would wish to add his photograph to your collection, you must either content yourself with perhaps a pair of antennae protruding over the edge of a distant leaf, or adopt one of the more cunning approaches described on these pages.
If you wish to see the Emperor in his natural habitat, these pages will help you find him. If you wish to learn more about him, try here, or share in the more controversial issues pervading the Empire here. This is the place to view some magnificent photographs taken by his loyal subjects at locations throughout the Empire. If you’d like to keep up with the latest sightings, look here, to report your own experiences with the Emperor, enrol as an Empire Blogger with our moderator here and to see what other friends of the Empire are up to, try this page. And because this Empire is a democracy, we want your contributions too.