Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus)


The Small Heath is a widespread butterfly, it can often be found in many open areas such as meadows, railway embankments, heaths and other rough grassy places across the British Isles. It is also the smallest of the ‘brown’ group of Butterflies found in the Britain.

Small heath butterflies are well camouflaged in the grassy places where they are found, always resting with wings closed tilted towards the sun on a warm patch of ground or low down on grass stems. Easily disturbed they will often fly low to the ground, always landing with wings closed they may also tuck down the orange fore-wing if danger is close.

Quick Info

  • Family Group: Nymphalidae – Browns.
  • Wingspan around: 30mm.
  • Habitat: Meadows, Disused quarries, embankments, Waste ground, Hills and downs.
  • Adult Nectar Plant: Common Daisy (Bellis perennis), Buttercups. (others will be added).
  • Photographed: June 16 2010.
  • Location: Barnack Hills and Holes (NNR)
Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Small Heath butterflies are double-brooded and can seen flying in greater numbers May-June and August-September, the caterpillars feed on grasses.

The under-side of the wings are always seen when landed, the fore-wing is most noticeable, being mainly orange with a prominent eye spot and a grey margin, the hind-wing is mainly brown with a grey margin . The upper-side of the wings are rarely seen except in flight and are orange-brown with grey margins with a small eye spot on the wing tips.

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