Purple emperor on green fern leaves (c) Iain Leach

Purple emperor butterfly

The purple emperor is a large brown butterfly with iridescent wings that shine blue or purple in the light. Purple emperors do not feed from flowers. Instead they feed from honeydew secreted by aphids, and even from dung and rotting animal carcasses. Their caterpillars feed on pussy willow (sallow) plants.

How to identify common garden butterflies.

Scientific name: Apatura iris

Rank: Species

Common names:

His Majesty

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The Purple emperor butterfly can be found in a number of locations including: Europe, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Purple emperor butterfly distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Broadleaf forest Broadleaf forest
Broadleaf forests are the dominant habitat of the UK and most of temperate northern Europe. There's little left of Britain's ancient wildwood, but isolated pockets of oak, beech and mixed deciduous and evergreen woodlands are scattered across the continent, and dictate its biodiversity.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web