Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Duke of Burgundy:
Duke of Burgundy
Hamearis lucina (Linnaeus, 1758)

Duke of Burgundy egg.
  Duke of Burgundy caterpillar.
  Duke of Burgundy chrysalis
Duke of Burgundy
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Lycaenidae: Subfamily Riodininae : Genus Hamearis: Species lucina:
Once known as 'Mr Vernon’s Small Fritillary’ the Duke of Burgundy's dark brown upper side marked with vivid orange spots is distinctive and unlike any other butterfly of its size it is easily confused with the Burnet Companion moth... a day-flying moth which occurs at the same time of year and is very similar in size. It is on the wing from early May to mid June with a peak in numbers occurring in mid May with individuals living up to 5 day as adult butterflies. The larvae feed on the leaves of Cowslip and Primrose from late May, spending the winter months as a pupa hidden among leaf debris.

The female Duke of Burgundy stay hidden for much of the day but after mating may travel up to 5km in search of suitable habitat. This can only occur where suitable natural corridors along which they will move occur. Where this freedom of movement occurs, new colonies can become established. Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices has resulted in the species failure to create new colonies so as old colonies are lost, no new colonies are able to establish and replace the old colonies.

The adults rarely visit flowers. Territorial males are more commonly encountered as they perch on a prominent leaf at the edge of scrub. They usually occur in low numbers, even on the best sites.

The Duke of Burgundy is a Priority Species for conservation due to the continued loss of habitat and resulting drop in population.
Historically a woodland clearing species Duke of Burgundy numbers decreased (reduced to fewer than 20 sites now present in woodland in the whole of the UK) as woods ceased to be managed and coppiced after World War I.

Chalk or Limestone grassland grazed during the autumn by Cattle is now the primary habitat where Cowslip grows in abundance and areas of light scrub for shelter occur.

In the Morecambe Bay area a different habitat is used. Limestone pavement which is un-grazed and has little grass cover supports these colonies.
In Britain the Duke of Burgundy is primarily confined to Southern England with small isolated colonies in Yorkshire and North Lancashire. The species has suffered a substantial decline in the number of colonies throughout the 20th Century and is one of the rarest butterflies in Britain.

The Duke has long suffered the effects of changes in our wild landscape. An example of its demise is illustrated by the survey of 126 sites in Wiltshire which were known to support the Duke of Burgundy in the 1980s. Of these 126 sites, only 23 were found to have any Dukes in 2006.
Where to see the Duke of Burgundy in the British Isles
Bedfordshire: Dunstable Downs, Totternhoe Old Quarry and Sewell Cutting
Buckinghamshire: Dancers End, College Lake, and Ivinghoe Beacon
Gloucestershire: Prestbury Hill, Rodborough Common
Oxfordshire: Aston Rowant NNR
Kent: Denge Wood, Bonsai Bank, The Warren, Crundale Downs
Hampshire: Noar Hill, Butser Hill - Rake Bottom
Somerset: Thurlbear Quarrylands
Wiltshire: Salisbury Plain

In the Morecambe Bay limestone area, there are less than 10 known colonies including:
Gait Barrows, Whitbarrow Scar
Other notes
In 2007 a small second brood of Duke of Burgundy occured at Noar Hill Hampshire. This is rare in the UK but is a more common occurance on mainland Europe.
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Duke of Burgundy in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
Endangered Endangered

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Endangered Endangered

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
UK status
Larval foodplants
Eggs are laid on the underside of the larval foodplant Cowslip (Primula veris) or Primrose (Primula vulgaris) usually on a leaf which is in partial shade.
Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
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Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 down by -58%
UK Population trend 1976-2004 down by -28%

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status candidate priority species (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map

Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Duke of Burgundy except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Duke of Burgundy on the NBN Gateway web site.
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For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Duke of Burgundy can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Duke of Burgundy can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Duke of Burgundy
Image ID BB1563 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1563 ©
Image ID BB1562 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1562 ©
Image ID BB1561 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1561 ©
Image ID BB1560 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1560 ©
Image ID BB1559 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1559 ©
Image ID BB1558 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy female (imago)
BB1558 ©
Image ID BB720 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy male (imago)
BB720 ©
Image ID BB719 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy male (imago)
BB719 ©
Image ID BB718 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy male (imago)
BB718 ©
Image ID BB717 - Duke of Burgundy - © Steven Cheshire
Duke of Burgundy male (imago)
BB717 ©
There are 45 photographs of the Duke of Burgundy in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Duke of Burgundy as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.
Aberrations and forms
There are 5 named aberrant forms of the Duke of Burgundy currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. albomaculata - Blachier 1909
ab. fulva - Osthelder 1925
ab. gracilens - Derenne 1927
ab. leucodes - Lambillion 1913
ab. semibrunnea - Osthelder 1925
Duke of Burgundy ab.gracilens