Zygaena purpuralis

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Transparent burnet
Zygaenidae - Zygaena purpuralis.JPG
Dorsal view
Zygaenidae - Zygaena purpuralis-001.JPG
Ventral view
Scientific classification
Z. purpuralis
Binomial name
Zygaena purpuralis
(Brünnich, 1763)
  • Zygaena reissi Burgeff, 1926
  • Zygaena reissiana Burgeff, 1926
  • Zygaena reissoides Koch, 1942
  • Zygaena hibernica Reiss, 1933
  • Zygaena simferopolica Reiss, 1939
  • Zygaena guhni Reiss, 1940
  • Zygaena neumanni Reiss, 1940
  • Zygaena purpurella Reiss, 1953
  • Zygaena fatrensis Reiss, 1940
  • Zygaena subalpicola Reiss, 1940
  • Zygaena bezauensis Reiss, 1940

Zygaena purpuralis, the transparent burnet, is a moth of the family Zygaenidae.

Zygaena purpuralis. Illustration from Europas bekannteste Schmetterlinge, Plate IX (c. 1895)


Zygaena purpuralis is a medium-sized moth with a wingspan reaching 30–34 millimetres (1.2–1.3 in). Usually the forewings show three bright red longitudinal streaks quite variable in shape, with almost transparent greyish-bluish edges. Hindwings are more extensively or almost completely bright red. Head and thorax are black, while the abdomen is dark blue. Adult moths are on wing from late May until August, depending on location. They fly during the day, especially with warm and sunny weather, feeding on nectar of various flowers. Larva are yellow, with some lines of small black spots. The larva feed on wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus, Thymus serpyllum, etc.). They occur from August to May and overwinter once or twice.


This species can be is found in most of western, central and southern Europe, from Ireland to France through to Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Russia and the Altai Mountains.


Zygaena purpuralis prefers sunny and grassy slopes, under cliffs and dry grassland.


There are several distinct sub-species:

  • Zygaena purpuralis purpuralis
  • Zygaena purpuralis austronubigena Verity 1946
  • Zygaena purpuralis caledonensis Reiss, 1931 (Hebridean islands of Skye, Lismore, Kerrera, Mull, Ulva, Eigg, Canna, and Rùm and in a few localities on the Scottish mainland in Kintyre and parts of western Argyllshire)
  • Zygaena purpuralis dojranica Burgeff, 1926
  • Zygaena purpuralis fiorii Costantini, 1916
  • Zygaena purpuralis isarca Verity, 1922
  • Zygaena purpuralis lathyri Boisduval, 1828
  • Zygaena purpuralis magnalpina Verity, 1922
  • Zygaena purpuralis mirabilis Verity, 1922
  • Zygaena purpuralis nubigena Lederer, 1853
  • Zygaena purpuralis sabulosa Tremewan, 1976 (western Ireland in the Burren, Counties Galway and Mayo and on Inishmore, in the Aran Islands)
  • Zygaena purpuralis segontii Tremewan, 1958 (occurred on sea-cliffs of the Llŷn Peninsula, Caernarvonshire. It has not been reported since 1962 and might be extinct)

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