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Rare butterfly found in Bradenham

PUBLISHED: 15:31 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:31 10 April 2017

Archant

One of Britain’s most elusive butterflies has been spotted at National Trust’s Bradenham estate near West Wycombe

Butterfly experts from the National Trust spotted the larvae of the rare Purple Emperor caterpillar overwintering on a sallow twig. Four caterpillars were spotted during the survey: the first time the elusive insect has been seen at the Chilterns countryside site.

National Trust butterfly specialist Matthew Oates has spent almost 50 years chasing Purple Emperors around the country.

Mr Oates, 64, said: “We were at the estate to look for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly, when I saw the Purple Emperor caterpillar on a sallow branch. It was just waking up from its winter hibernation.”

Purple Emperors are Britain’s second largest butterfly, with a wingspan of over 8cm. The butterflies, which are of ‘conservation concern’, are mostly found in the south of England - but now seem to be moving north.

It is hoped that the Purple Emperor butterfly will breed in the woodland at Bradenham this summer. The butterfly emerges from its pupae to fly in early July.

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