This afternoon (31st July) I did a circuit of the Knepp Castle Estate Wildland Southern Block, with the specific aim of saying goodbye to the Purple Emperor for another year. I think it's highly unlikely that I'll see another adult this season. A thorough search came up with just 4 males and a female, which of course would be a good mid season tally on most sites! However, those who have experienced the magic of Knepp will appreciate that these numbers signal the very end of the flight season here. As always this species will go down fighting and I did see a spirited chase between two very worn males.
In retrospect the season in Sussex will go down as "a little better than average", although I suspect it was below par in some counties. 2014 failed to produce the fireworks of 2013, but I have seen far worse. As always it was a little sad to see the last one head off over the crown of an oak, but hopefully plenty of seed has already been sown for next year. To celebrate the closing of another season, during which many happy memories were made, here's a close-up of a male's wing.