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Duke of Burgundy Butterfly

Hamearis lucina

Duke of Burgundy Butterfly, Duke of Burgundy

A close up of a Duke of Burgundy butterfly Hamearis lucina resting on a blade of green grass
Brauner Würfelfalter (Hamearis lucina) 01 by Harald Süpfle (CC BY-SA 2.5)
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Hamearis lucina, or the Duke of Burgundy, is a small and pretty insect found only in some parts of the UK. It's the only butterfly in the metalmark family (Riodinidae) which can be found in Europe. They thrive in woodland habitats or grasslands on chalk or limestone where there is an abundance of Cowslip! Numbers have dropped considerably over the last 20 years, so they're now protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. It's thought their dwindling numbers are mainly due to habitat losses and rising temperatures.
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Traits

A stunning and delicate insect that's the only one of its kind in Europe.
Its numbers are now in decline for a handful of reasons.

Appearance

Adults: They can be compared to the fritillary butterflies, but they're much smaller (max wingspan: 3cm). Both the hindwings and the forewings are dark chocolate brown with burnt orange spots. The margins demonstrate white chequering. The undersides of the wings comprise a row of eyespots (margins) then 2 rows of white spots. Larvae: Tiny caterpillars which only grow to around 3cm! They will only feed on Primula at dusk. They are tiny, green plump caterpillars. Pupae: The cocoons are small and stout. They are attached beneath the leaves of the host plant. Eggs: Tiny, spherical and laid in small batches.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Riodinidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Restricted to a small range in the southern UK.

Biological treatment

Recordings indicate this insect is in decline. If you're lucky to have one of these butterflies grace your garden with its presence, please welcome it with open arms! Try to avoid using pesticides if possible. Attract them using various Primula species, including Cowslip- be prepared for them to get a little munched.

Chemical treatment

If using pesticides don't apply during flowering periods.

Attracts

Caterpillars will sometimes use a hybrid of Primula as the food plant.

Primrose

Primula spp.

Cowslip

Primula veris

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