Skip to Content

6 Purple Butterflies

purple emperor
Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you fascinated by the beauty and diversity of butterflies? If so, you might be interested to learn about the different species of purple butterflies worldwide. These stunning creatures come in a range of purple shades.

Dingy Purplewing

dingy purplewing
Anne Toal from US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a small, tropical butterfly species with a unique purple sheen, the dingy purplewing (Eunica monima) is a great choice. The dorsal side of the wings is brown-black with a slight purple sheen, while the underside is brownish-grey with no distinct pattern. They have a wingspan of 4.8 – 5.1 cm (1.9 – 2 in).

The dingy purplewing butterfly is native to subtropical forests of Central America but can also be found in some parts of the United States. It is widely distributed in Florida and Texas, where you can spot it in wooded areas and near streams. Females lay eggs individually on young leaves of the host plant, which is usually a member of the Acanthaceae family.

Lesser Purple Emperor

lesser purple emperor
Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) comes in many morphs, but almost all have some share of purple colouring across the wings. Their wingspans measure 6.5 – 7.5cm (2.5 – 3 in), with females having slightly larger wingspans than males. The upper side of the wings is usually a deep purple with white markings, while the underside is a lighter brown with eye-like spots.

They prefer to live in open woodland, forest edges, and riverbanks. They can be found in Asia, Spain, Japan and Europe, where they are one of the largest butterflies. They are most commonly found in the southern parts of their range. The males are territorial and can often be seen patrolling their territory.

Striped Blue Crow Butterfly

striped blue crow
Sandipoutsider, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The striped blue crow butterfly (Euploea mulciber) has a wingspan of 7 – 9 cm (2.7 – 3.5 in), and its wings are a striking shade of blue or purple with white spots. The edges of its wings are black, and its hindwings are a combination of grey and brown in some areas. Its wings’ dorsal and ventral patterns are similar, making it a rare sight.

The striped blue crow butterfly can be found in India and Southeast Asia, and it lives in areas with lots of vegetation. It can often be found in forests but has also been spotted in gardens and parks.

Agathina Emperor

agathina emperor
Adrian198cm, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Agathina emperor (Doxocopa agathina), is a species of butterfly found in the Guyanas, northern Brazil, and the Amazon region. The males’ wings are blue to purple and cover almost the entire surface of the hindwings and forewings.

The species has orange spots across the outer forewings and an orange margin on the upper forewings. Conversely, females are brown with a wide orange band that runs diagonally away from the body. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 7 – 8 cm (2.7 – 3.1 in).

Purple Emperor

purple emperor
Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The purple emperor (Apatura iris) is one of the UK’s largest and most striking butterflies, with a wingspan of 7.5 – 8.4 cm (3 – 3.3 in). The males have a rich, iridescent purple colour on the upper side of their wings, while the females have a more subdued brown colour with a white band. Both sexes have a distinctive eye spot on the underside of their wings.

The purple emperor is an elusive butterfly that is found in small numbers over large areas, mainly in oak woodland in southern England. Despite a decline in the 20th century, it seems the purple emperor may be expanding its range again, even into suburban areas. South-central England is still a prime territory, though. They feed on aphid honeydew and tree sap but are also known to feed on rotting animal matter, urine and dung.

Freyer’s Purple Emperor

The freyer’s purple emperor (Apatura metis) butterfly has dark wings with reddish and yellow bands. The male has a purple sheen on the upper side of its wings, while the female is a duller brown. They have a wingspan of 6 – 8 cm (2.4 – 3.1 in).

The freyer’s purple emperor is found in Eurasia, primarily in oak woodland in southern England. The largest habitat of the animal is the Gemenc forest in southern Hungary. Despite its rarity, the freyer’s purple emperor can be seen in suburban areas, making it an exciting butterfly to spot in unexpected locations.