Wildlife to Visit of the Order Lepidoptera

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta )
Bluebell woods.
Carpet of Bluebells. © Angie Muldowney cc
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta )
Bluebell woods.
Carpet of Bluebells. © Angie Muldowney cc

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There are 58 wildlife species pictured below. Some species can only be seen during certain months. Wildlife that has been observed at this time of year are shown first preceeded by a green bar. Wildlife that can be seen at a different time of year is show last preceeded by a blue bar.

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Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) Early April to late October.
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Family: Lycaenidae (Blue)

Habitat: Farmland, gardens and parks, grassland, heathland, meadows and orchards.

Size: Length 17 mm (0.7 in). Wingspan 29-36 mm (1.1-1.4 in).

Food: Common bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and other legumes.

Flight: Early April to late October.

Females are dark brown with bright orange spots near the wing tips. Both male and female have black and white borders.

Common Blue ♂ (Polyommatus icarus) © MTM arr
Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) Early March to late July.
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Family: Hesperiidae (skipper)

Habitat: Grasslands, heathlands, sand dunes, lowland calcareous grassland and woodland clearings and edges.

Size: Length 12 mm (0.5 in).

Food: Mallows (Malvaceae).

Flight: Early March to late July. March till July.

The smallest of the skippers. Although this is a very energetic butterfly, it can sometimes be found basking on bare ground.

Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) © Adrian Benko cc
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) Early February to late November.
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Family: Lycaenidae (Blue)

Habitat: Grassland, heathland, woodland and lowland calcareous grassland.

Size: Length 14 mm (0.6 in).

Food: Sorrels and docks.

Flight: Early February to late November. In two or three broods.

A very active little butterfly that moves from plant to plant feeding and occasionally basking in the sunlight. Males are very territorial.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) © MTM arr
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) Early March to late September.
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Family: Pieridae (Yellows-and-Whites)

Habitat: Gardens and parks, woodland and lowland calcareous grassland.

Size: Length 30 mm (1.2 in).

Food: Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and many for nectar.

Flight: Early March to late September.

Wings are a perfect leaf shape and it is believed the yellow of the male led to it being called butter-coloured fly from which came butterfly.

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) ♂ ©
Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) Early April to late October.
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Family: Pieridae (Yellows-and-Whites)

Habitat: Grasslands, meadows and sea cliffs.

Size: Length 24 mm (0.9 in)

Food: Clovers, lucerne (alfalfa), vetches et al.

Flight: Early April to late October. April to October.

Fast-flying butterfly that winters as a caterpillar.

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) ♂ © Thomas Bresson cc
Comma (Polygonia c-album) Early April to late September.
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Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed)

Habitat: Woodland, gardens and parks and hedgerows.

Size: Length 24 mm. Wingspan 50-64 mm.

Food: Hops, stinging nettle and elm.

Flight: Early April to late September.

The comma is given its name by a white comma shaped mark on the underside of its hind wing.

Comma (Polygonia c-album) © photo by Dave Dunford
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) Early April to late July.
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Family: Pieridae (Yellows-and-Whites)

Habitat: Gardens and parks, meadows, hedgerows and woodland clearings and edges.

Size: Length 23 mm (0.9 in).

Food: Cuckooflower, garlic mustard and other crucifers which contain glucosinolates. Also garden honesty, mignonette and sweet rocket.

Flight: Early April to late July.

One of the first butterflies to emerge in the spring.

The female lacks the orange tips and so looks like a white.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) ♂ © Gail Hampshire cc
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) Early April to late October.
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Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed)

Habitat: Grasslands, heathlands, meadows and steppes.

Size: Length 14-20 mm (0.6-0.8 In).

Food: Grasses notably sheep's fescue and rough meadow grass (Poa trivialis).

Flight: Early April to late October. April to October.

The caterpillar is of a clear green colour.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) © Celan Remus cc
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) Early March to late October.
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Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed)

Habitat: Gardens and parks, meadows, arable field margins and hedgerows.

Size: Length 25 mm (1 in). Wingspan ♂ 45-55 mm, ♀ 52-62 mm.

Food: Adult: Nectar. Caterpillar: Stinging nettle.

Flight: Early March to late October.

One of the earliest butterflies to appear in spring after winter hibernation.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) ♂ © MTM arr
Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) Early April to late August.
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Family: Hesperiidae (skipper)

Habitat: Grasslands, heathlands, sand dunes, scrub, lowland calcareous grassland and woodland clearings and edges.

Size: Wingspan 27-34 mm (1.1-1.3 in).

Food: Bird's-foot trefoil, horseshoe vetch and greater bird's-foot trefoil.

Flight: Early April to late August. Swift and low.

The caterpillar creates a shelter by spinning leaves together and feeds until fully grown in August. It then creates a larger hibernaculum where it hibernates.

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) © Chris Parker cc
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