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butterflies

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly (Lysandra coridon)

 

Found mainly in the South East of England, on chalk or limestone (calcareous) grassland or downs, where the wild flower “Horseshoe Vetch” is growing in abundance, a native plant essential to the life cycle of the Chalkhill Blue.

Emerging Mid July to late August, the adult Butterflies may be seen on the wing in warm sunshine, in search of females or briefly resting to nectar on wild flowers. During periods of cool or overcast weather, they will often rest-up on or near the top of knapweed, grasses or other tall plant stems.

Paired Chalkhill Blues

Paired Chalkhill Blues

Quick Info

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly (Lysandra coridon) Male on plant stem Barnack hills and holes

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly (Lysandra coridon) Male resting on plant stem

The male has blue upper-wings with white fringes, the female is brown with orange spots. The under-wings are grey to mid brown with black spots.

The Chalkhill Blue is part of the Lycaenidae Group of butterflies, in British Isles this group of species includes:- the “Common Blue”, “Large Blue”, “Green Hairstreak”, and the smallest British butterfly the “Small Blue”, to name but a few.

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly- Female - on grass stem wing open Barnack Hills and Holes

Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon) – Female on grass stem

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Orange Tip Butterfly (anthocharis cardamines)

 

Widespread across Southern and Central Britain, Wales and as far North as Scotland, usually seen from the beginning of April through to June.

The male Orange-tip butterfly, is quite striking in flight with an orange patch on the outer half of the fore-wings, and black wing tips.

The female however lacks the orange patch on the fore-wings but both share marbled-green under-wings, black wing tips and a black spot on fore-wings.

Orange-tip habitat

Often found in a wide range of habitats, Orange tip butterflies can be seen anywhere, from country lanes and forest paths, to gardens and parks. Particularly active on warm sunny spring days, they fly close to the ground, stopping briefly to nectar before continuing.

Orange-tip Butterfly on wild daisy flower in garden

Orange-tip Butterfly showing green patterned under-wings

Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) on common daises

Male Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)

Information

  • Family group : Pierinae – Whites.
  • Wingspan around: 40mm.
  • When: April-June with numbers peaking around mid May although this may vary from year to year.
  • Caterpillars feed on : Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), Hedge Mustard, Sweet Rocket
  • Early nectar plant : Common Violets, Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) , Greater Stitchwort, Cow parsley, Bluebells, Common Daisey, Ground Ivy, Hedge Mustard, Iberis sempervirens, among others
  • Photographed : 15th May 2010.
  • Location : My garden, South Lincolnshire.
  • Updated : 16th October 2012.
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Welcome to Urban Butterfly Garden

 

Urban Gardens could play an important role in Butterfly Conservation



Gardens can play an important role in increasing the population and spread of some of our native and migrant butterfly species.

We are encouraged to use far less chemicals in the garden, and switch to more organic methods, like composting, and the use of natural fertilizers for our plants and vegetables, these changes can help to create a safer environment for us and our wildlife.


Orange-tip Butterflies may be seen in gardens from early Spring


These planted areas create what is known as a Green Corridor, allowing the movement of butterflies and other insects and wildlife through urban environments.

There are wildlife friendly plants and seed kits available to create a butterfly garden, and give things a great start.

Peacock Butterflies seen in Gardens Spring and Mid Summer

How…


Setting aside an area of the garden how ever big or small, for a selection of easy maintenance Flowers, or Shrubs, like Buddleia, Wild Marjoram (oregano), some Meadow Grasses maybe a few Nettles, will encourage butterflies and moths as well as other beneficial insects like Ladybirds and Hoverflies into the garden.



Common Blue Butterfly

Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Wood White Butterfly (Leptidea sinapis)

 

Information

A fragile looking white butterfly most often only found on woodland tracks and rides flying low to the ground on bright sunny days. Although able to fly some distance it’s slow lumbering flight makes it stand out from a distance from the other the species of white butterfly

During even short periods of cloud cover even on sunny days the butterfly will often quickly seek an inconspicuous place to rest.

Courtship Dance

One of the most unusual things about the Wood White butterfly is their unusual courtship dance. When a male meets a possible mate, they will both rest on foliage or the ground head to head for their exquisite display.

Wood White Butterfly

Wood White Butterfly

Wood White Butterflies

Wood White Butterflies

Quick Info

  • Name: Wood White (Leptidea sinapis)
  • Family Group: Pieridae – Whites
  • Wingspan: around 40mm.
  • When to see: May to July
  • Larval food Plants: Greater birds-foot trifoil (Lotus pedunculatus).
  • Adult nectar plant: Bramble Flowers, Black Medick (Medicago lupulina), Greater birds-foot trifoil (Lotus pedunculatus), Stichwort.
  • Location: Northamptonshire
  • Photographed: 5th July 2013
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis aglaja)

 

Found in most counties of England and Wales the Dark Green Fritillary is the commonest and most wildly spread of all the Fritillary butterflies, even being found in the far north of Scotland and the Orkneys.

It is often found around the coastal dunes, with the largest numbers to the west of the country, when found inland its habitat can include Grassy flower-rich meadows, Downs, Quarries, Open woodland and Embankments.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)on Red Clover

Information

  • Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)
  • Family Group: Nymphalidae
  • Size Around: 45mm
  • Habitat: Coastal dunes, Grassy flower-rich meadows, Downs, Quarries, Open woodland, Embankments.
  • When: July – August
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Red Clover (trifolium pratense), Thistles, Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious, Clustered Bellflower (campanula glomerata)
  • Caterpillars feed on: Common-dog Violet (viola riviniana), Marsh Violet (Viola palustris).
  • Photographed: 12th July.
Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)

On the wing from July into August the Dark Green Fritillary is a fast and agile butterfly, on sunny days it is always on the move stopping occasionally to nectar or rest to sun bathe on the tallest plant stems.

During periods of prolonged cloud cover or showery weather the butterflies may climb right down in amongst lower grass stems sometimes completely hidden from view, reappearing as if from nowhere when the sun returns.

The Dark Green Fritillary seen from above is similar in appearance to the much rarer High Brown Fritillary, the Dark Green Fritillary having only plain silver spots and a green underside on the hind-wing.

Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis aglaja) Female

Dark Green Fritillary Female


© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

 

A migrant butterfly and regular visitor, the Painted Lady may be found almost anywhere in the UK, arriving each year in varying numbers from a migration that begins in North Africa and continues throughout Europe.

The first Painted Lady butterflies may arrive in the country as early as March, and as the population increases into the summer they will often breed.

The female butterfly lays her eggs mainly on thistle leaves, usually just one per leaf, the success of the new brood relies very much upon dry warm weather in the early stages.

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) August

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Information

  • Family Group: Nymphalidae – Browns
  • Subfamily: Nymphalinae.
  • Status: Migrant.
  • Habitat: from Gardens to Mountain tops
  • Caterpillar food plant: Thistles, Common Nettles, Mallows
  • Adult Nectar plant: Thistles, Knapweed, Ragwort Buddleia.
  • Wingspan around: 60mm
  • Photograph: Painted Lady Butterfly feeding on white buddleia davidii- August 09
  • (record numbers where reported in the south and east of England in summer 2009)
Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui) on Knapweed

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Knapweed

The number of Painted Lady butterflies reach their peak in August and then fall away over the next couple of months.

Being a wide range migrant, the Painted Lady can be found almost world wide, and has many food sources ranging from Thistles, Knapweed, Vipers Bugloss and various cultivated garden Plants and shrubs like buddleia.

Upper wings are tawny orange with black markings and white spots on the tips. Under wings mottled brown and white with small-eye spots.

Painted lady butterfly strikingly patterned under-wings at chambers farm wood

Painted lady butterfly strikingly patterned under-wings

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)

 

about

The most unusual looking of all British butterflies the Brimstone Butterfly can sometimes be seen as early in the year as February, although it is mostly seen May-June after emerging in late spring from its winter hibernation.

The male Brimstone is an unmistakable Bright Yellow Butterfly, when seen in flight, the female is similar in size and shape but much paler in colour sometimes mistaken from a distance for the Large White Butterfly.

where

The Brimstone butterfly can be found in a broad range of habitats such as open woodlands, parks and gardens mostly on bright sunny days.

Its most unusual wing shape, gives the Brimstone the perfect camouflage from predators when nectaring or hibernating.

Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Quick Info

  • Family group: pieridae – Whites
  • Subfamily: Coliadinae
  • Status: UK resident
  • Caterpillars feed on: Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Dandelions, Knapweed, Teasils, Spurge Laural (Daphne laureola)
  • Wingspan: approx 60mm
  • Photographed: 7th August 2010
  • Location :
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly (Pyrgus malvae)

 

A small butterfly, with spotted patterned markings of dark brown and white, edged with a white fringe, on the upper-wings, and mostly seen from May to June although in certain years it may be as early as mid April.

The Grizzled Skipper is well camouflaged and sometimes difficult to see it can sometimes be found along with the Dingy Skipper Butterfly (Erynnis tages), and although both butterflies share the same habitat and similar flight times, they do not share the same food plants.

On sunny days Grizzled Skipper Butterflies may be seen basking in the sun, usually up off the ground, choosing to rest on an old knapweed seed head or stems of long grasses.

Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) on Knapweed stem

Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae)

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly (Pyrgus malvae)

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly (Pyrgus malvae)

Quick Info

  • Family Group: Hesperiidae – Skippers.
  • Where: Parts of Southern and Central England and south Wales.
  • Habitat: Meadows, grassy woodland rides,waste ground although mainly on chalk downland.
  • When: Flying where found in largest numbers from May-June.
  • Size: Wingspan 20mm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Wild Strawberry, Agrimony and Cinquefoils.
  • Population Status: Due to continued loss of natural habitat the Grizzled Skipper has become a priority species for conservation.
  • Family Group: Hesperiidae.
  • Photographed Ketton Quarry Mid May 2011 (Macro)
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

 

The Comma Butterfly is quite distinctive in appearance, its bright orange and brown colouring and unusual jagged wing shape make it quite easy to identify even from some distance.

Widespread across England and Wales, Comma Butterflies can often be seen in woodland clearings, on open rides, hedgerows and maybe even in the garden. They can be seen on the wing from early March to September, often in a sheltered sunny spot basking in the warm sunshine.

The males are often quite territorial and may be seen patrolling a section of hedgerow or woodland path sometimes quite boldly making their appearance known to other male Commas.

The Comma may also make an appearance on quite cool days with intermittent sunshine, sometimes resting hardly noticeable wings closed in the subdued sunlight, taking flight at even the slightest disturbance heading upward to find a safer perch.

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) wings closed on a Branch

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) in garden on leaf

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) in garden on leaf

Upper-wings: are orange with dark brown markings. Under-wings are mottled browns with a small white comma shape marking, from which it gets its name.

Comma Quick Info

  • Family Group: Nymphalidae – Browns
  • Wingspan: approx 45mm
  • Caterpillars feed on: Stinging Nettle (urtica-dioica), Hops and Elm.
  • Adults Nectar on: Bramble flowers, Ripe Blackberries, Ragwort
  • Adults Nectar in the garden on: Buddleia (mostly-yellow or White!), Rudbeckia
  • Photographs: Top right – Left – June 2011.
  • Location: My garden, and out on a local walk.
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020

Brambles, Butterflies and Blackberries

 

Brambles is often a name referring to the native blackberry bush, a thorny perennial plant that can often be seen growing wild amongst hedgerows and in gardens and woodland. It is able to tolerate even poorest soil types, and if left unchecked, often spreads, covering large areas of ground.

Its distinctive growth of long ‘biennial stems’ also known as Canes, these are covered along their length in sharp spines or thorns. In late Spring/early Summer stems of white petalled flowers appear from the canes attracting many species of butterflies, and other insects like hoverflies and bees.

Comma Butterfly feeding on ripe Blackberries

Comma Butterfly on ripe Blackberries

The blackberry is one of a group of more than 350 different species found around the world, these include raspberries, cranberries and loganberries.

There are also many hybrid varieties available specifically for the garden, some of which like ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Black Pearl’ even have thorn-less canes.

Bramble Blackberry (Rubus spp.) flowers on bush

Bramble Blackberry (Rubus spp.) flowers on bush

As the flower petals fall away first signs of the green fruit begin to appear, growing in size during the summer and turning from red to black when fully ripened in the Autumn.

The blackberries when ripe attract butterflies, wild birds, small mammals and humans, although newly grown plants don’t produce flowers or fruit until their second year.

Ripe and ripening wild Blackberries rubus

Ripe and ripening wild Blackberries

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2020