The BB Society - Denys Watkins-Pitchford


One of BB’s most ardent passions was the conservation of the Purple Emperor a large woodland butterfly that has iridescent purplish-black wings with white markings.  To quote him

“The gradual disappearance of our native butterflies, as well as some birds and plants, is one of the most worrying things today.  A certain south country forest I know, where the Purple Emperor still occurs, is now under threat.  When I last journeyed there I found that the sallows bordering the rides were being cut down.  I am now doing what I can to remedy the situation”.

(The Naturalist’s Bedside Book - 1980)

How BB set about these early attempts at butterfly conservation to which he gave such energy and dedication are very well documented in many of his writings. In particular his ‘Ramblings of a Sportsman-Naturalist (1979)' with its opening two chapters on ‘Butterfly Days’ and ‘Experiments with Butterfly Conservation’ have graphic descriptions of his hunting for the precious eggs in his Northamptonshire woodlands and the subsequent rearing of the larvae and chrysalises under muslin netting at his home.

It always gave him enormous pleasure to take the newly hatched butterflies back to his favourite woodland haunts and then release them to fly high into the oak branches above and it is to his lasting credit that this marvellous creature can still be found deep in rural England to this day.

The Purple Emporer Butterfly