Following are a few shots of one of the most elusive butterflies in Europe: Apatura metis, or “Freyer’s Purple Emperor”, as it is also known.

The location where I found this species (in Dobrogea) is only the second one in which I was lucky enough to see Apatura metis flying. The other area was Comana Woods, back in 2011. The great difference is that in Comana there were only very sporadic observations of this species, about one per year, while the new location has an apparent stable population with 2-300 hundred individuals!

The large number of butterflies allowed me and my wife to get some nice shots of Apatura metis, despite the 30+ degrees Celsius and late hour (usually Apatura metis is more “docile” in the morning).

First shot presents a female resting for a few seconds on leafs:

metis 4.jpg

The second shot presents a male, with its distinctive purple iridescence on the wings:

metis 5.jpg

The vast majority of the individuals observed were fresh, some barely emerged from pupae, with only a few males presenting an older aspect, mostly from flying in between the Salix branches. There was, however, an “old timer”: a female very possible from the first brood (this was my conclusion based on the larger size – almost as large as Apatura ilia females, compared to the very small “fresh” individuals, and the “very old” aspect of the butterfly’s wings), feeding in the shade:

metis 1.jpg

Occasionally some individuals were resting on trees:

metis 3.jpg

The large number of individuals (both males and females, in a 50-50% occurrence) indicated that the species was at its peak in late July (based on observations from two trips to the location, with a 6 day interval), and some couples were observed resting together in the trees:

metis 7.jpg

Back at home, while processing these shots, I had the pleasure of discovering an extra individual in a shot of the above couple: an Apatura metis pupae. It is visible in the image below, in the lower left corner of the image (marked with two white lines):

metis 6.jpg

This pupae and a ready-to-pupate larva were observed (but not photographed, unfortunately) on a single Salix tree. This means that this second brood is still going to fly at the location for a while…

A new trip is being planned 🙂

UPDATE: Following are two shots of one Apatura metis pupae. One of the observed larvae (which was also collected) has transformed. Look at the shape and compare with the above image showing the pupae well camouflaged between the Salix leaves.


metisCocoon 2.jpg


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