A couple of weeks ago, whilst out walking near our home in La Corrèze, France we spotted this Camberwell Beauty. I have to admit that I tend to get a bit over giddy when I see a butterfly species for the very first time, and this was such a rare treat that I could barely contain myself!
In France the Camberwell Beauty, known as le Morio or Manteau Royal, used to be a fairly common butterfly. Sadly, in recent years, its numbers have significantly declined. In the UK it is a rare migrant.
The Camberwell Beauty only mates after hibernating through the winter months in its adult form. Those that survive the hibernation period tend to be small in number, making their chances of finding a mate low.
With a wingspan of up to 75mm, the Camberwell Beauty is one of the largest butterflies found in France and Europe. It has deep maroon wings with blue outer spots and thick creamy-white margins. Its underwings are dark in colour, but the large creamy-white borders make it unmistakable. In flight they are majestic. As well as having large wings they have a fast wing beat which means you can certainly hear them!
You can usually find the Camberwell Beauty in open woodland and forests. They tend to favour areas where Salix (willow), its larval food plant is found growing. When adults emerge in springtime they feed from sallow flowers and sap runs. Later in the year they favour feeding from rotting fruits.
Although this one was looking a little raggedy after its hibernation, it certainly still lived up to its name. Have you ever seen a Camberwell Beauty? We’d love to know, please do leave your comments in the box below.
September 28, 2019 @ 2:54 pm susancarey
I think I saw one this morning. I am house-sitting near Grignols in Perigord blanc. I couldn’t believe how big the butterfly was! It was hovering above a harvested sunflower field then flew across the garden inspected the bins and flew away. Truly breathtaking sight. I wish I could have got closer!
September 30, 2019 @ 11:46 am Katherine
Wonderful! They certainly are quite large, yet elegant in flight. I’ve only seen the one so far, but hope that more will appear next year.