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Apatura ilia.

Apatura ilia.
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter Stoeckl (peter_stoeckl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1738 W: 291 N: 4005] (11530)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-27
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-H5
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/200 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): European Butterflies 7, Vienna Woods - Biosphaerenpark Wienerwald [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-05-31 19:02
Viewed: 5848
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 62
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Apatura ilia,

On a recent mountain bike trip through the swamps and river forests along the Danube in Vienna, I had to cross a deep mudhole. Getting back onto the forest track with mud spattering off my bicycle's tires I noticed a male of the Lesser Purple Emperor flying quick circles around me.

The moment I stopped my bike, the Emperor sat down on the ground right beside me and started to suck humidity from one of those blots of mud fallen from the tire, wings opened in deep iridescence in a beam of sunrays hitting the darkness of the forest. With the bike still between my legs, I slowly took off my rucksack and got my camera, and down from the bike I bent forward deep enough to do this short distance shot of the butterfly resting beside the bike's front wheel. It must have been a rather funny position to look at - at least for capturing a butterfly.

Apatura ilia (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)

Lesser Purple Emperor
Kleiner Schillerfalter
Kleine weerschijnvlinder
Liten Skimmerfjäril
Mieniak strużnik
Dúhovec menší
Batolec červený
Petit Mars changeant
Le Petit Mars
Tornada chica

Family: Nymphalidae
Subfamily: Apaturinae

Wing span: 65 - 70 mm.

First described from the river forests of Vienna by Ignaz Schiffermüller in 1775, Apatura ilia, the Lesser Purple Emperor, is similar in appearance and behaviour to Apatura iris (Linnaeus 1758). Males of both species are claiming and defending a territory of their own. They do not suck nectar from flowers, but they can often be seen licking water and minerals from wet spots on the ground. They are also attracted by all kinds of decaying substances.

Orange bordered eye spots on the upper sides of forewings are the best indicator to tell Apatura ilia at a first glance from the Purple Emperor.

Quite frequently, in the woods near Vienna a variation of A. ilia can be seen with white bands turning ochre: Apatura ilia "clythie", as shown.

The nominal form of Apatura ilia with white bands is shown here.

Apatura ilia can be met from Europe through the temperate zones of central Asia to Japan. The species does not go up as high up into the mountains or as far north as Apatura iris. Ilia is quite common but local in southern central and eastern Europe, and very local in Portugal and Spain. It is not reported from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, northern Germany, the Baltic States, Scandinavia. But it can be seen in southern France and Italy, where Iris is missing.

In the southern parts of its distribution, two generations may be observed: May / June, and August / September. North of the Alps, normally there would be only one generation in June / July. But, if the rest of the year 2007 stays as warm as it has been so far, a second generation is to be expected this year also there.

Caterpillars feed on Populus tremulae and Populus nigra. In January 2007, Dmitry Gavryushin (Osmeterium) from Moscow has shown us a most surprisingly looking document of an Ilia caterpillar hibernating.

Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, Stuttgart 1998.
C.Jonko: Butterflies and Moths of Europe: http://www.lepidoptera.pl/

The camera:
SONY DSC-H5, 3072 x 2304 pixel, sRGB, 16mm tele macro zoom (equivalent 96mm at full size SLR), F/6.3, 1/200 sec., exposure bias -1.0, ISO-125, hand held, no flash. 27.05.2007, 13:42.

P.S.: To the end of that session, the Emperor got up and settled right on my bicycle’s muddy front wheel to continue his sucking business. For a documentation of this funny event, please have a look into workshop.

Thank you for looking.
Have a very good day.

JoseMiguel, SkyF, pvs, anel, Janice, Alex99, dew77, uleko, Argus, phlr, horia, jhm, TheMystic, jmp, blakitan, shirgold, cecilia, Shoot_Score, snowfalken, flashpoint has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To flashpoint: grazie.peter_stoeckl 1 11-17 15:37
To snowfalken: ... taken from the bikepeter_stoeckl 1 08-09 16:27
To Shoot_Score: how BlueJays create colours -peter_stoeckl 1 06-23 05:29
To Robbrown: take them as you find them -peter_stoeckl 1 06-05 18:23
To Alex99: description of bicycle : )peter_stoeckl 1 06-01 15:11
To anel: Velo.peter_stoeckl 1 06-01 08:28
To Janice: ... didn't move the bike while he was restingpeter_stoeckl 1 06-01 05:27
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Critiques [Translate]


Nice picture. Especially it shows how beautiful and colorful the Emperor's wings are. TFS.

Murali Santhanam

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2007-05-31 21:09]

Hallo Peter,
Ein fantastischer Falter den du hier sehr schoen ins Bild gesetzt hast.
Super diese Aufnahme, die Farben sind einfach hervorragend. Super Bildgestaltung mit einwandfreier Schaerfe und Details.

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2007-05-31 23:38]

Hi Peter,
The focus is outstanding. Great detail on the wings. What an unusual color and how odd that almost all of the purple is on one wing. Beautiful colors. The workshop photo is excellent as well. It is nice to see the butterfly in both open wing and closed wing positions.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-06-01 2:24]

This is such an interesting shot, Peter.
The irridescent blue on the wing is stunning.
I know that the reason the wings look different has to do with the way the light fell on the butterfly, but it is so weird to see something assymmetrical in nature.
I really enjoyed reading your story as well.
TFS. ; )

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2007-06-01 2:42]

Hi Peter,

An unusual butterfly for me (as well how you photographed it),very nice colors,sharpness and note,well done and tfs


  • Great 
  • honza Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 533 W: 0 N: 720] (4197)
  • [2007-06-01 2:53]

Beautiful butterfly - I have never seen this species. Perfect sharpness and nice colors. Have a nice weekend. Jan

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-06-01 4:25]
  • [+]

Hallo Peter,
"Der Radfahrer und der Kleine Schillerfalter". Sie ist so schön diese Schilderung. Diesem prächtigen Schmetterling möchte ich auch über den Weg laufen( vielleicht braucht es das Velo dazu!). Wunderschöne Aufnahme dieses schillernden Falters, sehr rührend auch das Workshop-Foto. Herzlichen Dank für diesen Lichtblick

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-06-01 5:12]

What a marvellous capture, Peter!!
Wonderful POV and angle for this beautiful Apatura. I love how you captured the iridescence of its wings.
Great sharpness and wonderful colors. The note is fantastic too.

Oh Peter, I love the multi coloured wings - and especially how the sun is shining on them both giving a totally different look to them. Well done,
And I hope you didn't move the bike while he was resting on the wheel. . .

Hi Peter,
Come on, what a great picture taken almost by accident!
It's amazing the way light incidence creates such gorgeous iridiscent hues on the left wing.
I like so much all the clear details seen on the insect, they're very descriptive.
The additional image on the workshop not only complements the appearence of the butterfly, but also put us on the context of where the picture was taken.
It's always a pleasure to view one of your presentations, not only by the quality of the picture, but also by the respect you had toward us, with the careful info so descriptive of you work and about the subject displayed.
No more than my compliments and gratefulness to share all this with us.
Warm regards,

Hi, dear Peter.
Tell me, please, where you buy so beautiful paints for your models? Terrific colours, fantastic details and sharpness, blameless composition. Bravo, my dear friend. Now I shall look for the same paints.

P.S. I must say your note is not complete. I have not found here the description of bicycle.

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-01 9:40]

Hello Peter,
Very nice capture of this beautiful butterfly.Clear details,POV,cross framing and composition are wonderful.Have great day too!

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-06-01 10:29]

Hello Peter,
I've never seen this beautiful butterfly but I hope to see A.iris for the first time this summer although it is very rare here.
I like your story, these kind of surprises are often the most enjoyable! Excellent capture showing very sharp details and lovely colours. Your capture of the underside is beautiful too!
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-06-01 11:11]

Hello Peter,
As I probably will never see, let alone photograph A. ilia, it is great to be able to see your shots of it and read your experience in coming across it: it looks like it found you, or rather your mud, rather than the opposite.
So you took this opportunity with open hands to show us a superb sharp and beautifully composed image. The underside in the workshop was sharp enough to have made a closer crop, but I also understand that wanted to show that it liked the mud on your bike tyre.
Great post!
TFS and have a nice weekend!

Interesting how the light brings out different colors in the wings. Nice photo.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-06-01 13:17]

Hi Peter

What a fortunate find :)
This is indeed a splendid capture of this beautiful butterfly and another great example of the beauty of the iridescence. You did great to take advantage of the opportunutiy here and with a swift grab of the camera, took a nice series of photos.
Charming colors and sharp details as usual, and on top of evrything, despite the bike, a terrific POV and angle of the phenomenon.
The WS photo is also great and very funny :))

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2007-06-01 14:22]

Hello Peter,

The different colours in these butterfly (Kleine weerschijnvlinder this is my language) are very lovely, also the sharpness and clarity are superb, certainly with the open wings. Thanks for sharing.

Have a nice weekend,

Excellent capture of the iridescent blue on the wings - this is a great picture, showing us a side-to-side comparison of the color effects from the light. Great presence of mind and astute observation to spot and photograph this.

  • Great 
  • batu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1079 W: 293 N: 4497] (16383)
  • [2007-06-01 14:51]

Guten Abend Peter,
ich beneide dich, dass du diesen wunderschönen Kleinen Schillerfalter vor die Linse bekommen hast und auch noch so brilliant abgebildet hast. Ich habe die Art in meinem 'langen' Schmetterlingsforscherleben noch nicht lebend zu Gesicht bekommen. Das Bild ist erste Klasse, Schärfe und Farben sind perfekt - der Blauschiller wirkt überzeugend natürlich. Super!!
Schöne Grüße, Peter

My sort of capture peter, take them as you find them and always be prepared because you never know when the opertunity will come, well done with this one good sharp image TFS

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-06-01 16:51]

Hi Peter,
What a good document! Perfect details, wonderful reflections and iridescence and a complementary, original and even funny workshop. Very nice!
TFS, José M.

Hi Peter,
Superb macro shot. Interesting to see different colors of left and right wing. Was it due to diferent angle of reflected lights?
Sharp and great details.


Hi Peter,
Great capture and fantastic note.
I love the way the sun exposes the blue color on the wing, it's amazing there is braly a hint of blue on the other one.
TFS - Shir

Stunning indeed, never seen anything like it before...Brilliant capture...

belle photo de ce papillon, superbe assymétrie dans les couleurs, je suppose que cela doit en faire un spécimen rare? Amitiés Thomas

Good grief Peter!
It is not often that I saw WOW about a b'fly!

But here we see an exceptional take with the wings being in different colours! I assume it is the angle of the reflection, and it reminds me of how BlueJays create colours! Simply stunning! Ganz schön diese Schilderung. Tfs, Jay

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2007-06-24 12:39]

Hola Peter,
preciosa y original macro,
buenos detalles,
sensacional macro,

Hello Peter,

How beautiful! I've never seen this species before! This was taken exactly from the butterfly's vertical. I wouldn't guess it was taken from the bike.


The square format perfectly suits this composition. It looks great with the wings and body axis aligned with the corners of the picture. It has something geometrical in it and I like it. The larger space in front of the butterfly is welcome. Although the background is as sharp as the insect, I can distinguish the well known butterfly shape perfectly.


The colors are wonderful! Especially the blue iridescence makes the butterfly stand out. I think this iridescence occurs only when the light falls under a certain angle and this also explains the fact that it is almost missing on the right wings of the butterfly. Have you enhanced the blue color or is it just what this species looks like? The range-blue combination is very appealing.


Good overall contrast and excellent chromatic contrast between blue and orange! This is mandatory for the good isolation of the subject from the background.


I find the exposure very good! Fortunately the butterfly stopped in a sunny spot so that you can capture better colors and work with shorter shutter speeds. Even if the shadows are pretty dark, the details are still visible. The highlights are also well exposed.


This butterfly was very smart to pose with both wings completely horizontal. It allowed for a better control of the DOF. The focus was accurate and the whole butterfly fit into the area of acceptable sharpness. This rendered excellent details with no sharpness fall-off.

A wonderful post with very informative notes as usually! Great job! Thank you for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

  • Great 
  • sily Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 239 W: 6 N: 395] (1934)
  • [2007-10-06 17:03]

HI Peter!
Beautiful buterfly with quite interesting characteristics and colors, great full view shot and note!TFS!

there is something really eye catching about this and i think its the ground being so plain
this shows off the insects colouring and doesnt detract from the sharp detail of the wing and body
the differing hue on the wing is interesting and i imagine this is due to the effects of the lighting.

fantastic exemplary of Apatura ilia
very attractive the colorings of the wings particularly the left with the dark blue touches-violet
Peter,you did a great capture!!!

best regards sERGIO

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