The survival of the Purple Emperor Butterfly

October 8, 2010

Tags: Purple Emperor Butterfly

The Purple Emperor Butterfly is a rarity, and according to the magnificent compendium of American Lepidoptera by James A. Scott in his THE BUTTERFLIES OF NORTH AMERICA: A NATURAL HISTORY AND FIELD GUIDE, it appears in the USA only as a stray. Its behavior is seriously incorrect, because it hangs around at the tops of trees in the midday sun waiting for females!
One of its few rich habitats is in the UK where it is threatened by windfarm developments, and I have taken the opportunity to try and enlist the support of a strong-minded and critical member of(ahem, ahem))the monarchy to save it.

To Prince Charles, Clarence House, London

awarded American Medal of Honor for Natural History;
founder of Butterfly Conservation East Scotland


Dear Prince Charles,

Re. proposed windfarm at Fermyn Woods, Rockingham Forest

I am writing to canvass your support for the campaign to halt the installation of Wind Turbines in Fermyn Woods, Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire.

Leaving to one side this as a manifestation of the increasing industrialization of the countryside, this wood is the main stronghold of the extremely rare Purple Emperor butterfly (Apatura iris) [Doxocopa pavon in the US]. Indeed there are no comparable sites north of Northamptonshire, and of course it does not appear in Scotland east or west. The turbines will disturb its flight paths and, like all lepidoptera, it is of an exceptionally finicky character flying as it does at tree-top level.

With the news this week from Oxford University that one species of plant, insect or animal becomes extinct every 2 weeks in Britain, the time has surely arrived to call a halt to this depredation. Hopefully you may feel able to lend your voice to another cause against the current of change and activity for its own sake.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. David Spooner

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