Apatura ilia (Lesser Purple Emperor, Kleiner Schillerfalter, Le Petit Mars)
Apatura ilia, also called Lesser Purple Emperor or Kleiner Schillerfalter is a great . The first description was in 1775 by Denis & Schiffermüller. With a wingspan of 5.0 – 6.0 cm the Lesser Purple Emperor is a small member of the family NYMPHALIDAE. The butterfly is black with white spots. Furthermore the male has a blue iridescence. This blue is caused by an optical phenomenon, named interference.
Photos for easy identification
Here you can see a female of Apatura ilia f. clythie (called "Rotschiller").
The forewings are dark brown or black. On the wing leading edge there are two groups of white spots. There are three white spots and one auburn ring in the middle of wing. There is a blue iridescence on hole wing.
The underside is light brown. All white spots from upside are there. Nearby the body and on the wing leading edge there are two couples of black points. There is a big orange eye with black core in the middle of wing. At the margin there is a chain of grey spots.
The hind wings are dark brown or black. The margin is ridged. There is a long white band in the middle of wing. In back there is a auburn ring. There is a blue iridescence on hole wing.
The underside is light brown or grey. In back there is a blue spot.
The body is grey but the upside is black.
Sex differences: The female is brownish and has no blue iridescence.
The Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia) is a fascinating butterfly of the Palaearctic ecozone (Europe and Asia) without the North of Africa. The distribution include whole Europe and Asia from Arctic circle to Iran, Pakistan and China. You can see the Lesser Purple Emperor until 600 m sea level.
The flight period of the Lesser Purple Emperor is from June to July.
Trembling poplar, Poplar, Aspen, Willow
The first description of this butterfly was in 1775 by Denis & Schiffermüller. There are many subspecies.
- Apatura ilia extensa [Le Moult, 1947]
- Apatura ilia herastituta [O. Bang-Haas, 1936]
- Apatura ilia here [Felder, 1862]
- Apatura ilia hereoides [O. Bang-Haas, 1933]
- Apatura ilia phaedra [Leech, 1892]
- Apatura ilia praeclara [Bollow, 1930]
- Apatura ilia pusilla [O. Bang-Haas, 1936]
- Apatura ilia serarum [Oberthür]
- Apatura ilia sobrina [Stichel]
- Apatura ilia subsobrina [Mell, 1952]
- Apatura ilia szechwanensis [Le Moult, 1947]
- Apatura ilia yunnana [Mell, 1952]
The caterpillar is green with yellow strips and has two horns on head. The pupa has no silken girdl. This species overwinters as caterpillar.
Some of this butterflies has no white on wings. The white is replaced by red and orange. This form named clythie. It is very similar to the Freyer's Purple Emperor.
The distribution of Lesser Purple Emperor overlap with the distributions of the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) and the Freyer's Purple Emperor (Apatura metis).
The following differentiators are very useful to differ these similar species.
- The Purple Emperor has no rings on forewings.
- The Purple Emperor has a little spike in the white band on hind wings.
- The underside of Lesser Purple Emperor is darker than the underside of Freyer's Purple Emperor.
Protection provisions / Red List
- CITES: (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora):
-no entry- (as at 23.06.2005)
- EU regulation on trading with species of wild Fauna and Flora
-no entry- (as at 19.08.2005)
- IUCN Red List of threatened species:
-no entry- (as at 2004) (see: www.redlist.org/)
- Red List of endangered species of Austria:
-endangered- (category 3)- (see: www.roteliste.at/)
- Regulation of the Viennese regional government:
-strictly protected- (see: www.wien.gv.at/recht/landesrecht-wien/rechtsvorschriften/html/l4800200.htm
Similar and closely-related species
Apatura metis [Freyer, 1829] (Freyer's Purple Emperor, Donauschillerfalter)
Apatura ilia Denis & Schiffermüller 1775
Lesser Purple Emperor
Le Petit Mars changeant
Classification / Taxonomy / Family tree
- Kingdom: ANIMALIA
- Phylum: ARTHROPODA
- Class: INSECTA
- Order: LEPIDOPTERA
- Suborder: DITRYSIA
- Superfamily: PAPILIONOIDEA
- Family: NYMPHALIDAE
- Subfamilie: APATURINAE
- Tribe: ---
- Genus: APATURA
- Specific name: ILIA