Duke of Burgundy butterfly

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly is now a priority species for conservation. Its falling numbers are making it more and more difficult to spot.

Living in small colonies, it prefers to live in areas of taller grass. This scrubby grassland is ideal as it rarely visits flowers. You may see it perching on leaves at the edge of the scrub.

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly rarely visits flowers
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly rarely visits flowers
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly rarely visits flowers

Identification

It's dark brown wings are patterned with orange spots, with small white dots along the fringes. The females are harder to spot and spend most of their time resting or flying very low to the ground.

Caterpillars

They're big travellers too, and have been known to fly up to five kilometres looking for a suitable place to lay their eggs. The primroses and cowslips on the Commons are vital for the Duke of Burgundy's survival. They lay their eggs beneath the leaves. When the caterpillars hatch they spend the day at the base on the primrose or cowslip, waiting for night to fall before eating the leaves.

Sadly, once they emerge as a butterfly, they only live for five days.

Interesting fact

The famale butterfly has six fully functional legs, whereas the male only has four.