Some of the rarest butterflies in the world are purple.
Only a handful of purple butterflies exist around the world. These are often rarely seen as they live solitary lives with a few exceptions.
Purple is largely seen as a secondary color on purple butterflies as there are no all-purple species.
Some butterflies have purpler coloring than other colors but are still represented by multiple colors.
Purple butterflies are the national butterfly of countries such as Japan.
Their scarcity also makes them very specific to tropical forests or too wet forests next to large bodies of water.
Purple butterflies mainly feed on flower nectar but many species feed on dung, carrion, and mud compared to other colorful butterflies.
The following purple butterflies are either found in North America or scattered in various places across the world.
1. Florida Purplewing
With a wingspan between 1 and 2 inches, Floride Purplewing (Eunica tatila) is a purple species found in Southeastern US.
This species is also native to Texas and parts of Kansas.
You can find the species around woodlands and next to water sources.
Large Florida Purplewing populations are also seen across Mexico and South America.
The species has blue wings with dark brown to purple margins.
White dots decorate the forewings while the ventral wings are gray to brown, mimicking dead leaves.
The number of white dots is never less than 6 for each wing.
Florida Purplewing frequently eats decaying fruit. Alternatively, they might also eat flower nectar.
2. Pavon Emperor
Male Pavon Emperor butterflies (Doxocopa pavon) have brown wings with almost purple nuances. The overlay of blue to purple coloring makes these butterflies stand out.
Their base color is brown while white sections are seen across the central areas of the wings. Large orange spots are further distinguished on the upper side of the forewings.
Butterflies of this genus aren’t too easy to spot in the US. They might occasionally be seen in Southern Texas but they live in higher numbers across Mexico and South America.
A preference for tropical climates is what drives the species towards warmer climates.
These butterflies feed on flower nectar. They can also extra moisture and nutrients from mud.
3. Purple Crow Butterfly
Purple Crow Butterflies (Euploea tulliolus) are native to Taiwan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries plus Australia.
This specie gets its nickname from the purple hue of its black wings.
Its purple tint is not visible when the butterfly lies in a shaded place and tends to become visible only at noon when the sun is shining the most.
Most people know Purple Crow Butterflies by their managed migrations.
This species moves with the seasons for food.
In some parts of the world, the migration takes place in urban areas where they need to fly over busy polluted cities.
Taiwan Purple Crow Butterfly migrations are managed by local authorities as the species is protected.
4. Purple Owl-Butterfly
Purple Own-Butterflies (Caligo beltrao) are some of the largest in the world both among those with purple coloring and among butterflies in general.
The expected wingspan of the species stretches to 120mm.
Purple Owl-Butterflies have blue, black, and purple colors.
The inner parts of the wings closer to the body are blue. The body and the outer parts of the wings are black with purple hints.
Small orange tips are seen on the upper forewings. White sections are further distinguished on the lower hindwings close to the body.
This species has colors influenced by its favorite flowers. It feeds on purple arrowroot.
5. Lesser Purple Emperor
Lesser Purple Emperors (Apatura ilia) are found next to poplar woodlands. Poplars are the host species of its caterpillar.
Lesser Purple Emperors are among the few truly purple butterflies.
This species comes in many morphs but almost all of them have some degree of purple coloring across the wings.
Males have purple areas across the forewings and hindwings.
White and gray areas are also seen on the wings. Orange eyespots are seen on the forewings. Thin orange margins further decorate the forewings of the species.
The ventral coloring of the Lesser Purple Emperor is tan, gray, and light orange. The species has dull faded ventral colors.
6. Striped Blue Crow Butterfly
Striped Blue Crown Butterflies (Euploea mulciber) have blue to purple forewings with white spots and black margins.
They have dark hindwings that are partly gray and partly brown.
These butterflies have similar dorsal and ventral patterns which makes them a rare sight.
Ventral coloring is also blue with purple nuances and light white or blue spots on the forewings. White dots are also seen on its brown margins.
The ventral hindwings have light brown coloring with yellow and black veins and stripes as well as tiny yellow dots along the edges of the wings.
7. Agathina Emperor
Male Agathina Emperor butterflies (Doxocopa agathina) have blue to purple wings. The color covers almost the entire surface of the forewings and the hindwings.
The species has orange spots across the outer forewings and an orange margin on the upper forewings.
Females are brown with a wide orange band. The band runs diagonally away from the body.
Ventral coloring is based on brown and gray nuances both in males and females.
Some South American morphs of this species also show brown males with small purple sections across the wings.
Mostly common in Brazil’s Amazon, this species is small. Its maximum wingspan measures 2 inches.
8. Dingy Purplewing
Subtropical forests are among the favorites of Dingy Purplewing butterflies (Eunica monima).
The species has a widespread Florida and Texas distribution while also being native to Central America.
Dark brown coloring with a purple nuance is seen on the dorsal wings.
Its ventral wings are mostly blue to purple as well.
Dingy Purplewing butterflies are also among the reduced number of species that don’t feed on plant nectar.
Dung is among the favorite foods of the species.
Adults feed on dung while the caterpillars of the species feed on tree leaves. The gumbo-limb tree is the main host species for the Dingy Purplewing caterpillars.
9. Purple Emperor
Purple Emperor butterflies (Apatura iris) are among the species that have a purple morph.
One of the interesting facts about the purple morph of the species is that it only shows one purple wing with black coloring while the other wing is mostly black.
These color differences aren’t seen in other brown morphs of the Purple Emperor.
A vast number of male and female butterflies of this genus are brown.
Even the ventral coloring of the species is also based on brown and gray shades.
You can find these butterflies in oak woodlands. Oak trees are hosts for Purple Emperor caterpillars.
These butterflies also feed on the honeydew of oak-feeding aphids. They do not consume plant nectar.
Some butterflies of the species are also known to feed on carrion. They are attracted to carrion the more they see other butterflies feeding on it.
10. Freyer’s Purple Emperor
This species of butterfly (Apatura metis) is native to Europe and Asia. It’s found in wet woodlands where it feeds on carrion and mud.
This species of butterfly has mostly purple wings. Orange marks decorate its purple wings while its body is mostly gray to brown.
These butterflies have light brown wings with white markings that mirror the shape and size of their dorsal white marks.
Butterflies of this genus are a rare sight across the world due to their shrinking natural habitat.
Deforestation has been linked to a shrinking number of Freyer’s Purple Emperors.
11. Great Purple Emperor
Great Purple Emperors (Sasakia charonda) are the national butterflies of Japan.
This species has broadly purple wing coloration with blue undertones. Wide black margins and large white spots are seen across the wings of the species.
Unlike other purple butterflies that only grow to a wingspan of up to 2 inches, Great Purple Emperors can grow to a wingspan of up to 2.6 inches.
Hackberries are among the most common species of host trees.
12. Purple Cerulean
The Purple Cerulean (Jamides phaseli) is a species native to Australia. It’s mostly found in the Northern parts of Australia.,
This species has dark purple wings with black and white margins,
Black veins are further distinguishable for the species.
A black body with white bands across the lower body is also specific to this species.
Large black sections are further seen on the lower part of its hindwings.
13. Purple Beak
Purple is the dominant color of the male Purple Beak (Libythea geoffroy). This species has purple forewings and pink to purple hindwings.
Females have different coloring and no purple nuances at all.
Brown and black are the main colors of the female.
Black is specific to the upper part of the forewings while brown is seen on the lower part of the forewings of the female.
The hindwings are mostly light brown.
Ventral wings are similarly colored to dorsal wings. These butterflies and their caterpillars can be seen on hackberry.