Common butterflies on the Parkland Walk

Below we have listed the more common species that have been seen on the Walk, but the list is not definitive. Each year we usually find one that we wouldn't normally expect to see.

The photographs here are reproduced with the permission of Tristan Bantock who retains copyright.

Brimstone
Gonepteryx rhamni

Often the first and last butterfly to be seen in the season. The female's wings are much paler than the male's, almost white. The angular shape and veining on their wings gives them a leaflike look. They never settle with their wings open.

Read more: Brimstone

Comma
Polygonia c-album

A sudden decline meant that in 1920 there were only two sightings in the UK. By 1930 the population recovered and it is now one of the more familiar butterflies. The species survives the winter in the adult stage or can hibernate. Larvae that develop early in the season go on to produce another generation. It gets its name from a comma shaped marking on the underside of its wing.

Read more: Comma

Common blue
Polyommatus icarus

Male upper sides are an iridescent lilac blue with a thin black border. Females are brown with a row of red spots along the edges. Undersides have a greyish ground colour in the males and more brownish in the females. Both sexes have a row of red spots along the edge of the hindwings.

Read more: Common blue

Gatekeeper
Pyronia tithonus

The Gatekeeper is one of the 'Brown' family. Orange and brown, with black eyespot on forewing tip. Eyespots have two white pupils, not one, as in the Meadow Brown. Gatekeeper is also smaller and more orange with row of tiny white dots on hind underwings. Favourite nectar sources include Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, ragworts, and Bramble.

Read more: Gatekeeper

Green-veined white
Pieris napi

It is found in meadows, hedgerows and woodland glades but not as often in gardens and parks like its close relatives the Large and Small Whites, for which it is often mistaken.The so-called green veins on the underside of the adults are, in fact, an illusion created by a subtle combination of yellow and black scales.

Read more: Green-veined white

Holly blue
Celastrina argiolus

The Holly Blue has two broods per year, the first appears in April, well before other blue butterflies. It is much the commonest blue found in parks and gardens where it congregates around Holly (in spring) and Ivy (in late summer), prefering honeydew to nectar. It is widespread, but undergoes large fluctuations in numbers from year to year.

Read more: Holly blue

Large skipper
Ochlodes sylvanus

It can be found anywhere where wild grasses are allowed to grow tall. Hedgerows, woodland clearings and edges are favourites. Active in sunny weather it is attracted to various flowers but has a distinct liking for Bramble flowers. A faint chequered pattern on both sides of the wings distinguish it from the Small and Essex Skippers.

Read more: Large skipper

Large White
Pieris brassicae

The adult feeds on Thistles, Bluebell, Bugle, Dandelion Devil's bit and Field Scabious, Fleabane and Knapweeds. The black marking which curves around the apex of the forewing distinguishes it from it's smaller relation the Small White where the marking is straighter. Nicknamed the 'Cabbage white' due to it's ability to devour cabbages alarmingly quickly.

Read more: Large white

Meadow brown
Maniola jurtina

One of our commonest butterflies often seen throughout the summer months near grasslands. A highly variable species, particularly with respect to the amount of orange on the forewings and the number of black spots on the underside of the hindwings. Adults will fly in dull weather when most other butterflies are inactive.

Read more: Meadow brown

Orange tip
Anthocharis cardamines

One of the first species of spring. The male has orange tips to the forewings. These orange tips are absent in the female which is often mistaken for one of the other whites, especially the Green-veined or Small White. The undersides are mottled green and white which is in fact made up of a mixture of black and yellow scales.

Read more: Orange tip

Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, spreading northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia arriving in May and June. It's a truly global species present on every continent except South America and Antarctica and is one of the few found in Iceland.

Read more: Painted lady

Peacock
Inachis io

Probably the longest-lived butterflies in Britain (some even managing to see their 11th month) adults hibernate through the winter and make an early spring appearance. Frequent visitors to Buddleia later in the year when building up fat prior to hibernation, their preferred breeding habitat is large nettle beds in sheltered sunny situations.

Read more: Peacock