One of Britain’s rarest and largest butterflies will remind readers of the time a few years ago when the internet scrambled over whether ‘The Dress’ was black and blue or white and gold.
After decades of decline, the Purple Emperor is returning to the forests of England.
Despite its magnificent appearance, the species, affectionately nicknamed Su Imperial
Majesty, he’s drawn to smelly cheese, human sweat, fish paste, and even dog and fox poop.
But it is the strange colors of the male’s wings, which may appear blue to some people but brown to others, that is more astonishing.
Wildlife photographer Andrew Fusek Peters has been busy photographing the same butterfly from different angles.
Andrew, who photographed the butterfly at Oversley Woods in Warwickshire, said: “They are very rare, you see pictures of them, but like all British butterflies their numbers have fallen catastrophically.
“Conservation means that their numbers are increasing, but they are still one of the rarest British butterflies.
“They have this incredible quality where if you look at them from behind they are a brown butterfly and when you turn to the front of the wing it looks purple or blue.
“This is the effect of light on the thousands of scales that make up its wings.
“The scales refract light in different ways, that’s why you see the different colors.
“It was amazing to think that I was looking at the same butterfly when it looked completely different from both sides, it is really, really extraordinary.
“It was really special to be able to get so close, it was so relaxed. He had the lens four feet above the butterfly lying on the ground.
“I’ve never seen one before in the four years I’ve been photographing butterflies,” he said.
We are grateful that Peters has finally had the opportunity to do so, thanks to local conservation efforts that have brought the Purple Emperor’s numbers back to healthier levels.
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