Lepidoptera The Camberwell Beauty Butterfly – Vanessa Antiopa
The reader will be fortunate if he succeeds in netting a specimen of this highly prized British butterfly. It derives its popular name from the fact that a few were taken in Camberwell about a hundred and fifty years ago; and since that time it has been seen and taken in variable numbers in several parts of England. So widely distributed, indeed, are its localities, and so few, comparatively, its appearances, that it would be useless to attempt to give any hints as to where it may be looked for. It is, however, a very common butterfly in many continental countries, and foreign specimens may be obtained from any dealer in entomological wares for a few pence each.
This rare British gem is illustrated in fig. 2 of Plate IV. Here it will be seen that nearly the whole of the surface is covered with a rich velvety purple brown, bordered with a black band containing blue spots; and outside this is a border of white, finely dotted and streaked with black. The continental specimens may be easily distinguished from the genuine Britishers by a darker border with a decidedly yellow tinge.
The eggs of this species are generally laid on the young leaves of the willow (Salix alba), in the spring, by females that have hybernated, but sometimes the nettle (Urtica dioica) and the birch (Betula alba) are selected for the food of the larva.
The caterpillar is black and spiny, and has a row of seven rather large reddish-brown spots on the back, commencing at the fifth segment.
The chrysalis, like those of the other members of this family, is angular and suspended by the ‘tail.’ The perfect insect appears in August, and may be seen from that month till October.