Green veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi)



A widespread and common butterfly, the green veined white can be found throughout the UK, similar in size and appearance to the Small White but with noticeable green veined markings on the under-wings.

Green-veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi) - Female on yellow Ragwort Flower

Green-veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi) – Female on yellow Ragwort Flower

The Green-veined white butterfly can be seen flying from early May-September emerging in as many as three broods during the year. The green veined markings on the under-wings darken with every new brood throughout the year, turning from green to dark grey.

Green-veined White Female

Green-veined White Female

Green veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi) male on Wildflower

Green veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi) male

The females are more easily recognised from the males, during the summer months when the wings are closed, by the cream coloured tips on the fore-wings and cream hind-wing.

Its many habitats include Meadows, Woodland Rides, Urban Gardens, Parks and Hedgerows.

Quick Info

  • Name: Green veined White (Pieris napi)
  • Family Group: Pierinae – Whites.
  • Habitat: sunny areas in Meadows, Woodland Rides, Gardens, Hedgerows, Parks and urban Areas.
  • Wingspan: Approx 45-50mm
  • Photographed : 22nd April /10 July
  • Adults seen feeding on wildflowers like: Greater Knapweed, Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Daisies, Lesser celandine, Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Cranesbill
  • Location: South Lincolnshire
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Scabious – Flowers that Attract Butterflies and Bees



Well known as a native wildflower, Scabious with its range of cultivated varieties and colours also makes it a traditional garden favourite. Its constant flowering throughout the summer months, makes it the perfect plant for when little else is flowering, such as in late July.

Scabious is a great choice for any wildlife garden, or meadow, its steady supply of nectar rich flowers will attract pollinating insects, like Butterflies and Bees.

Native Varieties

Wild native varieties like the common “Field Scabious” (Knutia arvensis) or the less common “Small Scabious” (Scabosa columbaria) can be found throughout England and Wales, flowering June-September they may be found on dry calcareous (lime or Chalk) grassland. Similar looking the two sometimes confused. Devil’s-Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) has smaller rounded flowers around 15-25mm across and is found in much damper conditions, than the Field or Small Scabious.

Field Scabious flower head

Field Scabious flower head

Scabious Information

  • Also Known As: Pincushion flower
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Sow seeds: February, March, April, May, June
  • Flowering: May – September or until the first frost
  • Height: Around 50-60cm
  • Soil: Well drained Lime-Chalk /Alkaline.

Well known varieties

Two of the most well known varieties are possibly Scabious ‘Blue Jeans’ and Scabious ‘Butterfly Blue’, their abundance of flowers throughout the summer makes these real garden favourites.

These and many more colours and varieties of Scabious are available Visit “Thompson & Morgan” here, to take a look

Scabious “Butterfly Blue Beauty”

General Plant care

New Scabious plants when large enough can be put out from April in a frost free position, always allow about a week for them to acclimatise and the risk of frost has passed before planting out 30-40 cm apart, varieties with large blooms may need light support if the weather is particularly wet or windy. Remove dead flowers (dead heading) during the growing season every week or so, new blooms will soon take their place.

In Autumn or when the Scabious plants have turned brown and died back they can be cut down to ground level, this can also be done in the spring, when plants can be propagated by division.


To keep a stock of healthy plants, Scabious requires some propagation this is best done March-April by root division, this requires lifting and dividing young plants into one or two divisions and replanting, or replacing the older less vagarious growing plants.

Field Scabious in Meadow

Field Scabious in Meadow

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus)



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 butterflies lay two broods of eggs the first in Holly (Ilex aquifolium) April – May, and the second  brood on Common Ivy (Hedera helix) August – September.

Holly Blue Butterfly- Female-with wings open

Holly Blue Butterfly- Female-with wings open

Holly-Blue-Butterfly (Celastrina-argiolus) on Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

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.


© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis paphia)


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.

Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis paphia) Female

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) Female

Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis paphia) Male on Brambles

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.

Silver-wash Fritillary Butterfly (Argynnis paphia) - Female - Underwings

Silver-wash Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) – Female – Underwings

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae)


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.

Brown Hairstreak Butterfly female with wings open

Brown Hairstreak – female with wings open © Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2014

Population Status

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.

Brown Hairstreak on Blackthorn

Brown Hairstreak on Blackthorn © Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2014

Quick Info

  • Family Group: Blues (Lycaenidae).
  • Habitat: Found along the edges or in open areas of woodland or hedgerows in areas where Blackthorn or sloe is found growing in abundance.
  • When: July to October.
  • Where: Localised mainly in Southern and Central England.
  • Size: Around 40mm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Only Blackthorn (prunus spinosa) and other prunus species.
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Aphid Honey dew found on Ash trees, Bramble
  • Photographed: 8th September 2012, Chambers Farm Wood, Lincolnshire
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)


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) roosting on Knapweed

Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)

Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) on yellow flower

Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)


  • Family Group: Lycaenidae – Blues.
  • Habitat: Meadows, Waste ground, Heathland and Woodland Rides.
  • On the wing: May-September
  • Wingspan: approx 25mm.
  • Larvae feed on: Common Sorrel.
  • Photographed: 17th July 2010.
  • Location: Barnack Hills and Holes NNR.
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Silver-Studded Blue Butterfly (Plebejus argus)



The silver-studded blue is a small butterfly, similar in appearance although slightly smaller than the more regularly seen Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus).

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 (Plebejus argus) wings open

Male Silver-studded blue butterfly showing bright blue upper-wings

Male Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) seen mid June on Bell Heather

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.
  • Size around: 28-30mm
  • Larval Food Plant: Gorse (Ulex europaeus) and Bell Heather (Ling) (Erica cinerea)
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Flowers like Bell heather, Birds-foot trefoil.
  • Population Status: A priority species for conservation although the overall population at this time is stable
  • Photographed: Kelling Heath, Norfolk
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys rubi)


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 laying eggs on Birds-foot Trefoil

Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys rubi) resting on hawthorn shrub

Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys rubi) resting on hawthorn shrub

Quick Info

  • 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.
  • Size: Wingspan around 32mm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Common Rock Rose (Halianthemum nummularium), Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas)
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Hawthorn, Bramble, Wild Privet, Dog Rose, Crab-apple,Broom
  • Population Status:
  • Photographed: 19th April 2011, Barnack Hills and Holes NNR. Left-25th May 2014
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Cuckoo Flower, Wildflowers for Butterflies and Bees



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) Spring Wild Flower

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

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.

Quick Info

  • Name: Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
  • Type: Native Herbaceous perennial
  • Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)
  • Also Known As: Lady’s Smock
  • Where: Found locally through-out Britain
  • Habitat: Found on –Damp grassy meadows.
  • When does it flower? April to June.
  • Height around: 40cm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Orange-tip Butterfly (anthocharis cardamines) and Green-veined white (Pieris napi)
  • Photographed: 5th May 2012
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Aglais urticae)


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 Butterfly (aglais urticae) wings-closed on Buddleia

Small Tortoiseshell (aglais urticae) wings-closed on Buddleia

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (aglais urticae) in urban garden on white 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.

Quick Info

  • 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.
  • Under-wings: are Dark Brown – Black.
  • Wingspan: Approx 42mm
  • Caterpillars only feed on: Common Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica).
  • Nectar plants: Thistles (various), Hemp Agrimomy (Eupatorium cannabinum), Buddleia, Verbena (verbena bonariensis), Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)
  • Photograph: Above – Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) feeding on White Buddleia (davidii) – August 09. Right – August 2010.
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2018
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons