The Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) is small blue butterfly that may be seen from early spring, often in and around habitat where established Ivy (Hedra helix) and Holly (Ilex aquifolium) are growing in a sunny sheltered position.
The Holly blue may be found in this type of habitat in hedgerows, woodland, urban gardens and parks across Southern England, Wales and Southern Ireland.
Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina-argiolus) on Holly
Upper wings are violet blue and are only occasionally seen, while the butterfly is nectaring or resting, although after periods of cloud cover or rain, they may be seen sunbathing for brief periods, with wings open taking full advantage first available warm sun light.
A bright orange butterfly, found mainly in open woodland across the south and south west of the UK, in areas where it’s primary larval food Plant the Common Dog-Violet (viola riviniana) grows, although recent observations suggest colonies are moving Northwards.
Seen from mid June-August, the male silver-washed fritillaries are often first to appear, around a week before the females, adult butterflies spend some time in the tree tops sunning and feeding on honeydew from aphids, although during spells of warm weather they will often descend to warm sunny areas to nectar on Bramble flowers, Knapweed, wild marjoram quickly moving from flower to flower.
Photographs of Male and Female, 14th-23rd June 2011, Bedford Purlieus.
Photograph of female under-wings August 2010
Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) (Male)
Getting it’s name from the distinctive silver streaks on the underside of the wings, the Silver-washed Fritillary is the largest of all the Fritillary species found here in the UK, it is also a strong fast flyer with a wingspan around 60mm. The male is bright orange with black or dark brown stripes and spots on the upper wings, the female is similar in size and markings although slightly duller in colour.
A small rare butterfly, the Brown Hairstreak spends most of its time fluttering round high in the tree tops of a chosen Ash tree, often referred to as the Master Tree.
Most active on warm sunny days, both the male and female Butterflies may occasionally come down lower to nectar on bramble or other flowers, although the female is the most likely the one to seen close up, as she flies around to find a suitable site to lay her eggs.
Upper-wings are brown with orange patches on the fore-wings, under-wings orange/brown with two white lines or streaks.
The Brown Hairstreak is a priority species for conservation, due to continued habitat loss. The use of mechanical hedge cutting or flailing in late summer and Autumn damages hedgerows making them unsuitable for the female butterfly to lay her eggs, also cutting away previously laid eggs that will hatch in the following spring.
Lively and brightly coloured, the Small Copper Butterfly can be found throughout the UK, apart from the far north of Scotland.The Small Copper Butterfly can be seen flying from May-September, they are usually found in open grassy areas such as, Meadows, Waste ground, Heathland and Woodland Rides, where they enjoy basking in warm sunshine, often on the heads of wildflowers or a bare patch of earth.
Upper-wings are Bright Copper or orange with black spotted markings with a dark brown fringe on the fore-wings .
Under-wings are similar to upper-wings but light brown instead of dark brown.
Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)
Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)
Family Group: Lycaenidae – Blues.
Habitat: Meadows, Waste ground, Heathland and Woodland Rides.
The upper-wings of the male are purpleish/blue, with a border of black on the outer margins. The female is dark brown, with a dusting of blue scales, and orange spots around the margins of the wings.
Silver-studded blue butterflies are single brooded, emerging and on the wing in mid June, they form a close colony, most colonies contain just a few hundred adults, although in an area with plenty suitable habitat, there may be more than one colony.
Localised but widespread the Silver-Studded Blue mainly found across the Southern counties of the UK, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cornwall, Devon and Wales.
Male Silver-studded blue butterfly showing bright blue upper-wings
Seen mid June Silver-studded Blue on Heather
Quick Info: Silver-studded Blue
Name: Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus)
Family Group: Blues – Lycaenidae.
Habitat: Found mainly in warm areas on open sandy heaths or occasionally on grassland and coastal dunes in areas where Gorse, Ling and Bell heather are often found.
When: Beginning mid June, with numbers of individuals peaking around the end of June into July although this varies depending on the subspecies and colonies location.
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
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.
A fast growing climber, Honeysuckle is seen by many as a traditional garden shrub, often seen in gardens growing up a trellis or trailing over walls and fences.
Honeysuckle flowers generally appear from June-August and vary in colour from creamy white, pink, red and light yellow. They are mainly trumpet shaped, and give off an unmistakable sweet scent, most noticeable late evening and at night.
The flowers are followed by bunches of red berries which ripen in Autumn and are often eaten by wild birds during the winter months.
Probably the most popular variety of honeysuckle is Lonicera periclymenum (Woodbine) a native species which grows wild in woodlands and hedgerows throughout Europe.
It is deciduous (loses leaves in Autumn) with particularly fragrant light yellow flowers flushed with pink/purple and may grow to a height of 5-6m.In Britain wild honeysuckle can sometimes be seen growing up trees in woodland, spreading amongst hedgerows, and other plants using then for support.
The leaves are grey – green and oval shaped.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) red berries
Common Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) Woodbine in flowering in Woodland, growing amongst Blackthorn and Wild Privet
Honeysuckle for the Garden
Honeysuckles grown specifically for the garden can vary in that, some are deciduous others are evergreen and semi-evergreen. The flowers also can be trumpets or funnel shaped, often forming clusters, although some can occur in pairs depending on the species. Traditionally scented, some Honeysuckles can also have little or no scent, but make up for this with masses of spectacular flowers.
Name: Honeysuckle (Lonicera. Sp)
Height: May grow up to 5m if supported.
Position: sun or semi shade
Care: Feed or water if needed, prune or shape if required in Winter or Spring
Pale yellow and ivory flowers from midsummer to September, and a powerful sweet perfume, make Honeysuckle ‘Scentsation’ a delightful garden climber. It is a great plant to let trail over a garden wall, or train up a fence or trellis. After flowering the glossy red berries are an attractive food for garden birds in late summer
RHS Perfect for pollinators: Yes
Type: Hardy Shrub
Colour: Pale yellow and Ivory
Flowering Period: July, August, September.
Position: sun or semi shade.
Great For: scented gardens, woodland garden, Fences and Walls
Honeysuckle ‘Belgica’ a colourful sweet scented climber
A hardy climber Honeysuckle ‘Belgica’ has sweet scented flowers that begin white and gradually turn yellow with rich red streaks. Early Dutch Honeysuckles usually flower early summer and often follow up with a second flush of blooms in late summer, September to October. The glassy red berries that are loved by garden birds.
Lonicera Japonica Halliana is an evergreen Honeysuckle that produces masses of creamy white and yellow very fragrant flowers, all spring and summer. Also known as Japanese Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle ‘Halliana’ is a vigorous climber and will rapidly make it’s way up a trellis or wall, plant in the garden near windows or doors to fully appreciate the wonderful scent.
Also known as: Japanese Honeysuckle
Type: Full Hardy climber
Planting Position: Full sun to partial shade
Flowering: May to September
soil type: Most well drained
A great plant for attracting wildlife to your garden
A robust climber with long, red and orange trumpet-shaped flowers that continue to bloom from July through to September. Although unscented, Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ makes up for this with masses of colourful flowers, vigorous growth and semi-evergreen blue-green foliage, ideal for hiding an unsightly area of the garden like a wall or fence, or trailed through a large mature tree.
Type: Hardy shrub
Colour: Orange and red (Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle)
Flowering: July, August, September
Planting Position: Full sun to partial shade.
Soil Type: In fertile, moist, free draining soil.
Height and Spread: 4m (13′), 2m (7′).
Ideal For: Wildlife garden, Cottage garden, walls and trellis
A small green butterfly, widespread and distributed across most areas of the UK, it’s colouration and fast flight make the Green Hairstreak well camouflaged, and often difficult to spot, even in areas where it is locally found and numbers are known to be high.
Seen from April-June, Green Hairstreak butterflies are mostly only active, and give away their whereabouts during periods of warm sunshine. They may be found in a wide range of habitats such as, woodland clearings, meadows, heaths and on hillsides, forming localised colonies that often vary greatly in numbers.
On emerging the Butterflies will often seek a nectar source on plants and shrubs such as, Hawthorn, buttercups, Brambles, Crab-apple, Common-rock Rose, Gorse, Birds-foot Trefoil, Dogwood and Buckthorn and numerous others.
Green Hairstreak laying eggs on Birds-foot Trefoil
Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys rubi) resting on hawthorn shrub
Name: Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)
Family Group: Lycaenidae – Blues,Hairstreaks.
Where: Throughout the UK.
Habitat: Edges of Woodland, Hedgerows, Heaths, Moorland
When: Flying in largest numbers from May to early June.
Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) is a herbaceous early Spring perennial, with delicate lilac or violet tinted flowers with obvious dark violet veins, and yellow anthers on a sturdy stem, varying in size to around 40cm long, seen from April to June.
The leaves are a basal rosette, with 8 pairs of oval leaflets
Widespread but localised, throughout many areas of the UK, Cuckoo Flower where found, often grows in abundance, preferring, wet or damp grassy meadows, and similar locations ranging from lowlands to mountains.
Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock as it is also known, like other early wildflowers provides a nectar source for Butterflies, Bees and other insects in early spring, making it a great addition to a wild flower or wildlife garden. It is also an essential larval food plant for the strikingly coloured Orange-tip Butterfly.
Seen as one of our commonest and successful garden butterflies, the small Tortoiseshell is widespread, and may be seen across all parts of Britain and Ireland, often around patches of nettles or nectaring on wild flowers like, Dandelion, Thistles, Marjoram, Ragwort, and Buddleia in late summer.
Usually seen from March through to October, the butterflies emerge from two broods in a year, the first is in June and the second, August to September, some of the adult butterflies from the later brood hibernate, appearing again on sunny days in early Spring.
In the last few years, the pretty Small Tortoiseshell butterfly has unfortunately seen a massive decline in numbers, the cause of the falling numbers is not yet completely known, although changes in weather patterns are not being ruled out.
Small Tortoiseshell (aglais urticae) wings-closed on Buddleia
Small Tortoiseshell (aglais urticae) on white Buddleia
2013 was a good year for the small Tortoiseshell with a good number of sighting across the country. After a mild winter 2013-2014 it seems a good few made it through winter hibernation. I have seen more this March and April than in previous years at this time.
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Family Group: Browns – Nymphalidae
Upper-wings: are a rich, orange with black spots on the front edge of the fore wings, Blue crescents sit in a Black margin around the fringes of the hind wings.