Species Account for Apatura iris
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W&C Act: Schedule 5
Essex RDB: Appendix
Additional Phenology Data
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Taxonomic group: butterflies (Lepidoptera: butterflies) - Part county data
Purple Emperor on UK Butterflies website
Essex Red Data List comment
Appendix. Purple Emperor. Notable/Nb. Extinct as a breeding species since before the First World War but very rare vagrants. Natural recolonisation from Hertfordshire now possible (D. Corke, pers. comm.).
A large, woodland butterfly of central Southern England whose larvae feed mainly on Sallow (salix caprea). This butterfly spends much of its time high in the canopy and can be extremely difficult to find. A reintroduction programme under the Essex BAP has been undertaken during the 2000s adjacent to the Marks Hall Estate, near Coggeshall. There is currently (2012) a breeding population at this location. However, evidence from Hertfordshire and north-west Essex suggests that the presence of this elusive insect can never be completely discounted in suitable woodland. Sightings in 2011 and 2012, coupled with unconfirmed sightings from the 1980s, suggest that the Purple Emperor has remained extant along the High Beach ridge of Epping Forest. Isolated sightings should never be dismissed as vagrants or unauthorised releases as they could represent evidence of a landscape-scale population existing at extremely low density. (Butterfly Conservation) References