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.

Purple Hairstreak
Neozephyrus quercus

The Purple Hairstreak is our commonest Hairstreak and is primarily found in woodland containing oak trees (hence quercus), the foodplant of the larva. The male is hard to spot as they spend much time high in the tree canopy feeding on honeydew. They may come lower in periods of prolonged drought.

Read more: Purple hairstreak

Red Admiral
Vanessa atalanta

The Red Admiral is a common and regular migrant to the UK although some of the population survive the winters in Southern UK and it can be seen on sunny winter days. As well as gathering nectar from Buddleia, Ivy blossom and Bramble they are also partial to rotten fruit.

Read more: Red admiral

Ringlet
Aphantopus hyperantus

This is a relatively common species and one that is generally doing well. It prefers damp woodland edges and clearings rather than exposed sunny meadows. 

Read more: Ringlet

Small Copper
Lycaena phlaeas

There are typically 2 or 3 generations each year between late April and October, depending on the weather, with 4 generations in extremely good years. Males are territorial, often choosing a piece of bare ground or a stone on which to bask and await passing females. They behave aggressively towards any passing insects and even shadows of passing birds.

Read more: Small copper

Small Skipper
Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Skippers are insects of high summer. Although they spend much of their time basking or resting among vegetation, they are marvellous flyers, manoeuvring expertly through tall grass stems. The favoured food plant is Yorkshire Fog/ They are strongly attracted to purple flowers such as Thistles and Knapweeds.

Read more: Small skipper

Small Tortoiseshell
Aglais urticae

Unfortunately, this most-familiar of butterflies has suffered a worrying decline, especially in the south, over the last few years. One theory is the increasing presence of a particular parasitic fly, Sturmia bella, due to global warming. It is believed that the lifecycle of the Small Tortoiseshell is better-synchronised with that of the fly and it is therefore more prone to parasitism.

Read more: Small tortoiseshell

Speckled Wood
Pararge aegeria

This species is unique among the butterflies of the British Isles in that it can overwinter in 2 stages, as both a larva and pupa. As a result, there is a mixed emergence with adult butterflies on the wing from April through to September, with a few adults being seen as early as March or as late as October.

Read more: Speckled wood

White-letter Hairstreak
Satyrium w-album

Flying high in the treetops, it gets its name from the "W" formed from a series of white lines on the underside of the hindwings. Best seen in early morning or late afternoon, when they come down to nectar on various flowers, Thistle, Bramble and Privet being favourites. They never settle with their wings open.

Read more: White-letter hairstreak