Denys "BB" Watkins-Pitchford's fascination for the ‘elusive’ Purple Emperor butterfly (Apatura iris) took hold when he was very young. He finally came ‘face to antennae with iris’ properly for the first time in 1946, after which he enjoyed many happy sightings before spraying to eliminate Oak Tortrix moths led to its extinction in the 1960s.
The iris bug then bit BB even deeper. He learnt how to gather eggs successfully and so began his mission to hand rear ‘His Imperial Majesty’ in muslin-protected cages in his own garden, releasing the mature adults back into the wild in Fermyn Wood.
BB’s Butterflies is a treasure trove of extracts from BB’s many books and magazine articles featuring the Purple Emperor and other butterflies. Readers will delight in BB’s descriptive prose which reveals what a marvellous observer and entomologist he was, interspersed throughout with BB’s own distinctive colour illustrations, monotone scraper boards and colour photographs.
Immerse yourself in the world of the Purple Emperor and Nature in general and enjoy this taster of BB’s enormous literary output, along with first-hand contributions from many who knew and supported him in his conservation work; including Douglas Goddard, Butterfly Recorder for Northamptonshire, Badger Walker and Bill Humphreys, lifelong friends of BB and John McEwen, author and journalist.
"BB changed my life, for his book Brendon Chase helped set my path of direction. Sure enough, unravelling the mysteries of the Purple Emperor became my life's work."
– Matthew Oates, the National Trust's specialist on butterflies, from the foreword.