The Duke of Burgundy butterfly is one of Britain’s rarest butterflies, having declined by 84% since the 1970s. It can only be found in England, including some sites in Buckinghamshire.
It has been part of a focused effort in conservation to restore and maintain key habitats where this beautiful butterfly nests, feeds, and pupates. In particular, the duke enjoys scrubby grassland and sunny woodland clearings, and lays its eggs underneath the leaves of Primrose (Primula vulgaris) and Cowslip (P. veris) plants.
It’s a small butterfly and I haven’t adequately captured the brilliant flashes of orange on its underwing in my watercolour! Although patterned like a fritillary (and considered to be a fritillary), it is actually not part of that family of butterflies; rather, it lies within the metalmark family and is the sole representative of its subfamily in Europe.