• Brimstone Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni): The Brimstone is a great wanderer and, as one of the longest-lived UK species, can be seen in almost every month of the year. There are two distinct emergences; one on the first warm days of spring and the other in high summer, when the butterfly is seen nectaring on plants like ...
  • Brown Argus Brown Argus (Aricia agestis): This small brown butterfly emerges at the same time as the Common Blue and is usually found in similar places. There are two broods a year. The female lays on the common rock rose and dove’s foot cranesbill and the caterpillars are also attended by ants. In the cemetery, it is ...
  • Comma (Polygonia c-album) Comma (Polygonia c-album): An early butterfly, it emerges after winter hibernation, using nettles as the larval food plant. Often found warming up on sunny gravestones, it is named after the white mark on the underside of the wing. The next generation from July to August also includes a summer form – P hutchinsoni – which ...
  • Common Blue Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus): An iconic butterfly, the Common Blue emerges in late spring, around the middle of May. The larvae feed on leguminous plants such as common birds-foot trefoil, and are often attended by ants, which receive a sweet sugary secretion as a reward for protecting the caterpillar. A second brood can be seen ...
  • Holly Blue Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus): This pretty butterfly emerges in April after pupating over winter. This generation lays eggs on the base of holly flowers, where the pupae feed on the developing flowers and berries. They emerge as adults in July and August, when the female, distinguished by a black margins of the upper front wings, ...
  • Large Skipper Large Skipper (Ochlodes faunus): This butterfly is found in sheltered areas of grassland, where grasses grow tall. It emegres from June and has one generation each year. The caterpillars eat a variety of foodplants, including birds-foot trefoil and brambles. In autumn, the larva forms a stout tube from a grass stem in which to hibernate. ...
  • Large White Large White (Pieris brassicae): The larger of the two Cabbage White butterflies that infest gardens and farms across the UK. A friend planted a ‘sacrifice’ crop of nasturtium in his garden; however, once the caterpillars had finished them, they finished off his cabbages as well! The Large White emerges in early spring, and has two ...
  • Meadow Brown Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina): Widely distributed in the UK, this is the ubiquitous brown butterfly of grasslands everywhere. It emerges from overwintering as a caterpillar in May and as an adult from late June; it can be seen right through to September. The female has more orange on its wings than the male and there ...
  • Orange Tip Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines): This brightly-coloured butterfly (the males at least) is seen from April until early June, when females who lack the orange tips of the male look for plants like cuckoo-flower and garlic mustard on which to lay their eggs. The green larvae then feed on the developing seed pods before overwintering as ...
  • Painted Lady Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui): This large and colourful butterfly is a continental visitor, arriving any time from early spring to breed in the UK. The females lay eggs on thistles, where the caterpillars feed until they pupate, emerging about three weeks later as adults. In 2009, tens of millions of Painted Ladies arrived in the ...
  • Peacock Peacock (Inachis io): One of the early season butterflies, this iconic butterfly is often found basking in the sun on paths or bushes. It lays eggs on nettles in spring, where the black, spiky caterpillars form large nests before they disperse and pupate. It hibernates for over winter, emerging after warm periods in March and ...
  • Red Admiral Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta): This beautiful butterfly can be seen at almost any time of year. Not strictly a hibernator, it overwinters in a torpor, rather than full hibernation, becoming active during warm winter days. Another that uses nettles as its principal larval food plant. In late summer males set up territories, defending them against ...
  • Small Tortoiseshell Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae): The classic spring butterfly, it emerges from hibernation early in the year, basking on open patches of grass or on vegetation and gravestones. Look out for larval nests on nettles similar to the Peacock, but with brown and yellow caterpillars. UK numbers may be boosted by continental immigrants in late summer ...
  • Small White Small White (Pieris rapae): This medium-sized butterfly is familiar to most people as a Cabbage White, since it eats various brassicas (though not so much of a pest to gardeners as its cousin the Large White). There are two, in good years three, generations each year, with adults emerging in April/May and July/August, and sometimes, ...
  • Speckled Wood Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria): As its name suggest, this pretty butterfly is associated with woodland edges and is one of the few butterflies extending its range in the UK as a result of climatic change. There are two generations a year: the first emerges in early spring, following overwintering as a pupae. The caterpillars eat ...

Want to know more about butterflies?

Anyone interested in learning more about butterflies can join Butterfly Conservation and look on the local branch site.

An excellent resource for further research can be found at one of the UK’s premier natural history websites, UK Butterflies.