Only a couple kilometers from our new home I spotted a male of the Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) in early July. This gave me hope that I might have found a good larval habitat for searching overwintering caterpillars in late autumn and during winter.
While cycling home on a sunny but windy day earlier this summer I suddenly noticed a large butterfly taking off from the path. I clearly knew it must be an interesting species. Getting a close-up on the wings confirmed that it was a male of A. ilia. Since the location has growth of aspen in different sizes it’s a highly promising biotope.
Like the Purple emperor (Apatura iris) also the Lesser purple emperor has incredible blue tones on its wings, depending on the light conditions. Note, females are plain black and lack the blue shades.