Species


Black Hairstreak



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

The Black Hairstreak is an elusive butterfly which can be found at Glapthorn Cow Pastures
Status: Rare. (Bedfordshire's rarest butterfly).
Only found in a few small colonies, some of which are on private property.
Only about 45 colonies exist in the whole of Britain, all in south-east midlands. Map shown at 5km resolution to reduce possibility of collecting.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Blackthorn.
No. of broods: One.
Flight time(s): Only 2-3 weeks duration(!) usually during second half of June, but flight period varies each year, so to avoid missing it completely start looking before mid-June.
Winter: Egg.
Habits: Occasionally flies, mostly around lunchtime, but loves to skulk around the tops of trees out of site, feeding on honeydew. May come down to feed on Wild Privet. Requires binoculars and lots of patience to find.
Habitats: Mature thickets of sheltered sunny Blackthorn.
More details about the Black Hairstreak

Photograph by Keith Balmer

Brimstone

Status: Common.
Distributed over whole county.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.
No. of broods: One.
Flight time(s): New brood emerges in late July and into August and soon hibernates, emerging the following spring to breed. It continues to live until about June, making it one of the longest lived butterflies as an adult at about 10 to 11 months. Numbers dip in July between broods.
Winter: Hibernates as an adult, often in Ivy.
Habits: Flies on warm/hot sunny days. May not be seen on cooler days even though other butterflies are flying.
Never rests with wings open.
Habitats: May occur anywhere but its larval foodplants occur mostly in scrubby woodland and hedgerows.
More details about the Brimstone

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Brown Argus

Status: Locally common. Colonies exist all over the county.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Common Rock-rose and various Crane's-bills
No. of broods: Two
Flight time(s): Early May to Mid June. Mid July to early September.
Winter: Fully-grown larva hibernates then pupates in the spring.
Habits: Sometimes roost communally on grasses. The feeding larvae are attended by ants.
Habitats: Brown-field sites, downland, unimproved grassland, heathland, road verges, track edges, woodland rides.
More details about the Brown Argus
Camberwell Beauty
Photograph courtesy of Hilary Monk

Camberwell Beauty

Status: A migrant.It is named after its first reported sighting in Britain, near Camberwell in south-east London, in 1748.
Size: Large
Larval foodplant: A range of tree species is used, mainly willows, elms and poplars.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): June - July
Winter: Overwinter as adults and lay eggs in the spring.
Habits: Most of the individuals seen here probably migrate from Scandinavia where it is widespread and sometimes locally abundant. When they arrive, the adults are known to visit gardens and nectar on buddleias.
Habitats: The butterfly is normally found in woodland habitats in mainland Europe. It also breeds in a range of other habitats such as river valleys, dunes, parks, and gardens.

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Chalkhill Blue

Status: Locally common. Exists in colonies and only found on Chalk.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant:Horseshoe Vetch
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Early July to end of August.
Winter: Egg (The only Bedfordshire "Blue" that overwinters in this state).
Habits: Likes to feed on Knapweed and Scabious. Males also may feed communally on mammal dung, e.g. dog.
Habitats: Chalk downland only, where turf is short and its sole larval-foodplant grows.
More details about the Chalkhill Blue

Photograph courtesy of David James

Chequered Skipper

The Chequered Skipper was once a fairly common butterfly in the north of the county until the 1970s when it became extinct in England. In 2018 the Back from the Brink Project and Butterfly Conservation reintroduced this butterfly into a secret area of Rockingham Forest. For news and more information about the project please see the Roots of Rockingham section of the Back from the Brink website.
Status: Reintroduced into a currently undisclosed area in Rockingham Forest.
Size: Small
Larval foodplant: Grasses such as Woodland False Brome and Calamagrostis
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): May/June
Winter: Larva
Habitats: Woodland rides particularly in areas rich in Bugle flowers (the Chequered Skipper’s favoured nectar source) grows.
More details about the Chequered Skipper

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Clouded Yellow

Status: A migrant.
It breeds here, but does not over-winter. 'Clouded Yellow Years' occur when large numbers of migrants arrive.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Legumes such as Clover, Lucerne and Common Bird's-foot-trefoil.
No. of broods: One or two in the UK.
Flight time(s): Typically seen June to October.
Winter: Continuously brooded in North Africa and southern Europe. UK individuals can emigrate in the autumn.
Habits: A strong and fast flier. Only flies in sunshine. Restless, only feeding briefly before moving on. Never rests with wings open.
Habitats: May occur anywhere but prefers chalk downlands and clover fields.
More details about the Clouded Yellow

Photograph by Keith Balmer

Comma

Status: Common and widespread
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Common Nettle, Elms and Hop.
No. of broods: One and a half(!) The first brood produces two forms. One is the dark overwintering form. These do not breed in the year they emerge, but overwinter and breed the following year. However some of the first brood are the lighter Hutchinsoni form, which do breed quickly to produce a second brood, which are all the dark overwintering form. The day length at a critical stage in the development of the first brood caterpillar affects which form of adult it will become.
Flight time(s): May be seen in mild spells during winter, but finally emerges from hibernation in March and flies until mid May. The first brood flies mid June to early August when the second brood begins to appear. They may fly until mid October before hibernating.
Winter: Hibernates as an adult on the side of a tree, camouflaged as a dead leaf.
Habits: Fast-flying. Easy to identify with its 'jagged' edge.
Habitats: Anywhere nectar and foodplants occur.
More details about the Comma

Common Blue



Photograph by Keith Balmer

Status: Locally common. Colonies exist all over the county.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Common Bird's-foot Trefoil, Black Medick, Lesser-yellow Trefoil and probably other related plants.
No. of broods: Two
Flight time(s): Mid-May to early July. Late July to mid September.
Winter: Larva
Habits: Males are territorial. Generally flies below head height, unlike Holly Blue which generally flies higher. In flight the two species can be confused, but the undersides are distinctly different.
Habitats: Brown-field sites, downland, unimproved grassland, heathland, road verges, track edges, woodland rides.
More details about the Common Blue

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Dark Green Fritillary

Status: Uncommon and local
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Violets
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Early June to early August
Winter: Larva
Habits:
Habitats: Currently only found on chalk grassland in Bedfordshire, but nationally can be found in other unimproved grasslands and may also use woodland rides, moorland and dunes.
More details about the Dark Green Fritillary

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Dingy Skipper

Status: Uncommon and local.
Lives in small colonies that are vulnerable to extinction.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Common Bird's-foot trefoil is the usual foodplant. May use Horseshoe Vetch or Greater Bird's-foot trefoil.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s):Late April to Mid June
Winter: Fully-grown larva hibernates in tent of sown-together leaves. Pupates in the spring without further feeding.
Habits: Basks a lot on bare ground. Flies only when sunny. Fast and low flying, difficult to follow. Roosts with wings bent around vegetation in a unique manner.
Habitats: Chalk downland, brown-field sites, clay pits.
More details about the Dingy Skipper

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Duke of Burgundy

Local and rare. (Bedfordshire's second rarest butterfly).
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Usually Cowslip. Other primulas used too.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Late April to early June.
Winter: Pupa
Habits: Males are territorial, perching on scrub and chasing everything that flies into their area. Females are more secretive and skulk around in the undergrowth avoiding the males.
Habitats: Currently uses scrubby chalk downland, but has used woodland in the past.
More details about the Duke of Burgundy

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Essex Skipper

Status: Locally common. Found in colonies all over county in suitable habitat. Easily confused with Small Skipper. (See above).
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Cock's-foot preferred, but other grasses used too
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Early July to mid August.
Winter: Egg. Doesn't hatch until spring.
Habits: Males perch or patrol for females. Females are more secretive. Both sexes feed on wide range of nectar sources. Perches with forewings half-closed. Flies as a high-speed orange blur.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, woodland rides, brown-field sites, road verges, field margins
More details about the Essex Skipper
 
Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Gatekeeper

Status: Colonial, common and widespread. One of our most abundant species.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Various fine-leaved grasses
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Early July to mid August.
Winter: Larva
Habits: As its alternative name, Hedge Brown, implies, it spends most of its time in the vicinity of sunny hedges and shrubs and is often adundant.
Habitats: The margins of unimproved grassland, road verges and woodland rides. Loves brambles and other nectar sources in the right habitat.
More details about the Gatekeeper

Green Hairstreak



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Uncommon. Found in discrete colonies, primarily on the chalk and in Marston Vale. Usually seen in small numbers, but dozens or more can sometimes be found. Possibly under-recorded.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Usually Common Bird's-foot-trefoil and Common Rock-rose.
No. of broods: One.
Flight time(s): Late April to early June.
Winter: Pupa
Habits: Spends much of the day perched on hawthorn. Can be found by gently pulling on a branch to shake the bush. The butterfly may then briefly fly. As it never settles with wings open, it warms itself by tilting one underside to be at right-angles to the sun, then turns around to warm the other.
Habitats: Likes areas of light hawthorn scrub on chalk downland and in the brick clay pits.
More details about the Green Hairstreak

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Green-veined White

Status: Common. Distributed over whole county.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Wild crucifers, including Garlic Mustard, Cuckoo-flower and Hedge Mustard.
No. of broods: Two.
Flight time(s): First brood flies late April to late June.
Second brood flies mid July to late September.
The second brood is usually more numerous.
Winter: Pupa
Habits: Easily confused with Small White in flight, but undersides are clearly different when settled. (See above).
Habitats: May occur anywhere, but prefers damper conditions than Small White.
More details about the Green-veined White

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Grizzled Skipper

Status: Uncommon and local. Lives in small colonies that are vulnerable to extinction.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Creeping cinquefoil is the usual foodplant. May use Agrimony and Wild Strawberry. The later larval stages may also use Bramble.
No. of broods: Usually one. A partial second brood may occur in late July/early August.
Flight time(s): Early May to Mid June
Winter: Pupa at the base of the foodplant.
Habits: Spends the day basking, feeding or flying. Basks on or near bare ground to warm up. Flies only in sunshine, when it appears as a low-level blur. Males will perch, defending a territory. May roost communally.
Habitats: A combination of bare ground, short turf, taller vegetation and nearby scrub. Found at brownfield sites, unimproved grasslands with scrub, woodland clearings and rides, track and lane verges.
More details about the Grizzled Skipper

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Status: A migrant from southern Europe.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Bedstraw
No. of broods:
Flight time(s): June to September
Winter: Migrate to southern parts of Europe.
Habits: Day fliers. For feeding, they use their proboscis to probe flowers, like the hummingbird.
Habitats: Lowland areas

Holly Blue



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Common. Widespread across the county. Numbers rise and fall with a period of 4-5 years as a result of the parasitic wasp Listrodomus nycthemrus which almost wipes out the species, and itself with it. Both species subsequently recover to repeat the cycle.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Mainly Holly and Ivy, but may also use Dogwood, Spindle, Snowberry and several other shrubs including bramble.
No. of broods: Two
Flight time(s): Early April to Mid June. Early July to Early September.
Winter: Pupa (The only Bedfordshire "Blue" that overwinters in this stage).
Habits: Usually seen flying around tall shrubs and trees, often above head height. In summer sometimes seen flying around Ivy in large numbers. Usually rests with wings closed, but may open them in weak sun.
Habitats: Hedgerows, woodlands, churchyards, gardens and parks.
More details about the Holly Blue

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Large Skipper

Status: Locally common. Found in colonies all over county in suitable habitat
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Cock's-foot preferred, but other grasses used too.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Early June to early August
Winter: Larva hibernates in tube of leaves sown together. (Winter cutting of grasses can thus be detrimental).
Habits: Males perch or patrol for females. Females are more secretive. Both sexes feed on wide range of nectar sources. Perches with forewings half-closed. Flies as a high-speed orange blur.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, woodland rides, brown-field sites, road verges, field margins
More details about the Large Skipper

Large White



Photograph by Keith Balmer

Status: Common. Distributed over whole county.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Crucifers, especially cabbages and nasturtiums, which makes it unpopular with some gardeners.
No. of broods: Two.
Flight time(s): First brood flies late April to late June.
Second brood flies mid July to late September. The second brood is usually more numerous. Numbers are boosted by migrants from the continent.
Winter: Pupa
Habits: Particularly fond of cabbages and nasturtiums for egg-laying.
Habitats: May occur anywhere.
More details about the Large White

Marbled White



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Lives in colonies where it can be common. Its range is expanding.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: A variety of grasses
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Late June to early August
Winter: Larva
Habits: Most of day spent on purple or blue flower-heads (such as knapweed and field scabious), or roosting on grasses.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland and set-aside fields, predominantly on chalk or limestone, but its distribution is expanding.
More details about the Marbled White


Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Meadow Brown

Status: Colonial, common and widespread. One of our most abundant species.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: A variety of grasses.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Mid June to late August
Winter: Larva
Habits: Flies low over grassland, along hedges and ride edges, usually staying below head height. Will fly on dull days and even in light rain.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, brown-field sites, road verges and woodland rides.
More details about the Meadow Brown

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Orange Tip

Status: Common. Distributed over whole county.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Garlic Mustard and Cuckoo-flower are preferred.
No. of broods: Usually one.
Flight time(s): Early April to mid June.
A rare partial second brood can occur in July or August.
Winter: Pupa
Habits: Males emerge about a week before females. Tucks forewing under hindwing when resting and is well camouflaged when resting on umbellifers like Cow Parsley.
Habitats: May occur anywhere, but prefers damp grassy habitats such as meadows, woodland ride and road verges.
More details about the Orange Tip

Painted Lady



Photograph by Keith Balmer

Status: A migrant, arriving directly from North Africa and the Middle East. Continental offspring may arrive later. Numbers vary each year. It breeds here but does not overwinter.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Mainly Thistles, but Common Nettle, Mallows and Viper's-bugloss may also be used.
No. of broods: Continuously brooded in North Africa and the Middle East. One or more broods occur here. (Home-bred individuals can fly in as little as a month from being an egg).
Flight time(s): Immigrants begin to arrive late May and may occur throughout the summer. Numbers usually peak in August.
Winter: Absent. Few, if any, survive in any life-stage. The absence of an apparent southerly emigration in the autumn (unlike the Red Admiral) is a mystery. (What is the evolutionary advantage of the original immigration?)
Habits: Fast and powerful fliers. Adults feed voraciously on flowers, knapweed being a favourite.
Habitats: Anywhere nectar and larval foodplants may be found.
More details about the Painted Lady

Peacock



Photograph by Keith Balmer

Status: Common and widespread.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Common Nettle
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): May be seen in mild spells during winter, but finally emerges from hibernation in March and flies until the end of May. New brood emerges mid July and flies until mid August when it goes into hibernation.
Winter: Hibernates as adult
Habits: Larvae initially feed communally in a web before dispersing when larger. Adults often hibernate in sheds, garages, churches etc. If disturbed will dramatically flash their eye-spots accompanied by a hissing sound.
Habitats: Anywhere nectar and nettles may be found.
More details about the Peacock

Photograph courtesy of Peter Eeles

Purple Emperor

Status: In decline, mianly in central and southern england.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Goat willow and Grey willow.
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): July - August
Winter: During the winter the caterpillars hibernate in the forks of sallow branches where they change colour from green to brown in order to match their surroundings
Habits: Spend their time in tree canopy. They do not feed from flowers but from honeydew which is secreted from aphids, and also on dung and animal carcasses. Habitats:The butterfly requires large blocks of broad-leaved woodland or clusters of smaller woods and/or dense scrub where the foodplants are abundant.

Purple Hairstreak



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Common but under-recorded. (Map probably doesn't reflect true distribution). Potentially found anywhere there are mature Oak trees.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Oak.
No. of broods: One.
Flight time(s): Late June to mid August
Winter: Egg.
Habits: Spend most of their lives around the tops of mature trees, especially Oak and Ash, where they flit around the canopy, especially of an evening, when they can be active up to about 8pm. When viewed through binoculars they may been seen sunbathing with wings open, displaying the purple upper surfaces. (Males are completely purple on upper surfaces, females partly). As they pupate in ground litter the best opportunity to view at close quarters may be when they are emerging below oaks in early July.
Habitats: Mature Oak woodland, and clusters of large Oaks. Also visit Ash and Elm, looking for honeydew to feed upon.
More details about the Purple Hairstreak

Red Admiral



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Primarily a migrant, arriving from North Africa, the Continent or even Scandanavia during spring and summer. Numbers vary each year. It breeds here, but in the main does not over-winter here, though it is said that small numbers of all life stages may be found in, and survive, the winter.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Common Nettle
No. of broods: Certainly one here, possibly more, but hard to say due to continuous immigration.
Flight time(s): Migrants begin to arrive in late May and can continue to arrive throughout summer. Individuals bred from immigrants begin flying from about early July. (Egg to adult takes only 6 weeks).
Winter: Some emigrate in autumn, a few hibernate and others die. A few may survive in any of the life stages. Occasional sightings during mild spells in winter are likely of (ex)hibernating adults.
Habits: Ivy flowers are a favourite in the autumn. Quite difficult to approach. Larvae are solitary and live in an easily found tent formed from nettles leaves.
Habitats: Anywhere nectar or nettles can be found.
More details about the Red Admiral

Photograph by Keith Balmer

Ringlet

Status: Colonial, common and widespread. One of our most abundant species.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Various grasses
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Mid June to early August
Winter: Larva
Habits: Flies low over grassland, along hedges and ride edges, but can also commonly be seen in trees. Will fly on dull days and even in light rain. Its flight is more bouncy than Meadow Brown's, as though suspended by elastic.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, brown-field sites, road verges and woodland rides.
More details about the Ringlet

Silver-washed Fritillary



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: In decline, but mainly in england. Largest of the fritillary family.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Common Dog-violet
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): June - August
Winter: Caterpillars hibernate overwinter.
Habits: It is named after the silver streaks on its underside which can be viewed as it stops to feed on flowers such as bramble.
Habitats: Broad-leaved woodland and hedgerows.
More details about the Silver-washed fritillary

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Small Blue

Status: Local and uncommon. Generally exists in small colonies, but one large colony is known to exist. A Species Action Plan exists for this species in Bedfordshire.
Size: Small. (Britain's smallest butterfly)
Larval foodplant: The flowers of Kidney Vetch.
No. of broods: Primarily one. A partial second brood may occur.
Flight time(s): June. A partial second brood may occur in August.
Winter: Fully grown larva hibernates then pupates in spring without further feeding.
Habits: Males perch on low vegetation. Females tend to rest near the Kidney Vetch. May roost communally at the base of a slope when they are quite easy to find.
Habitats: Only found on disturbed chalk where its sole foodplant grows.
More details about the Small Blue

Photograph by Keith Balmer

Small Copper

Status: Colonies are widespread, but usually contain only small numbers. In hot sunny years numbers and distribution increase. The reverse occurs in cold wet years.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Sheep's Sorrel, Common Sorrel and Broad-leaved Dock.
No. of broods: Two, possibly three in warm years.
Flight time(s): Late April to Mid June. Mid July to early October. Flight-time chart below hints at two peaks (broods?) during this latter period.
Winter: Larva
Habits: Territorial males perch on or near ground and chase anything that enters its air-space.
Habitats: Brown-field sites, downland, unimproved grassland, heathland, road verges, track edges, woodland rides.
More details about the Small Copper

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Small Heath

Status: Colonial, widespread and still reasonably common, but distribution and abundance may be reducing. Possibly over-looked and under-recorded.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Fine-leaved grasses
No. of broods: Two
Flight time(s): Mid May to Mid September. Numbers dip between broods around the end of July.
Winter: Larva
Habits: Always rests with wings closed. Can be difficult to approach closely.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, road verges and woodland rides.
More details about the Small Heath

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Small Skipper

Status: Locally common. Found in colonies all over county in suitable habitat
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: Yorkshire fog preferred, but other grasses used too
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Late June to mid August
Winter: Larva hibernates immediately after hatching. Only starts to feed in the spring
Habits: Males perch or patrol for females. Females are more secretive. Both sexes feed on wide range of nectar sources. Perches with forewings half-closed. Flies as a high-speed orange blur.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, woodland rides, brown-field sites, road verges, field margins
More details about the Small Skipper

Small Tortoiseshell



Photograph by Keith Balmer

Status: Common and widespread
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Common Nettle
No. of broods: Usually two.
Flight time(s): May be seen in mild spells during winter, but finally emerges from hibernation in March and flies until the end of May. The first of the new broods begins to emerge in mid June and both broods fly back-to-back until late September, when they go into hibernation.
Winter:Hibernates as an adult, often in sheds, garages, churches etc.
Habits:
Habitats: Anywhere that nectar and Nettles occur.
More details about the Small Tortoiseshell

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Small White

Status: Common. Distributed over whole county.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: Crucifers, especially Cabbages and nasturtiums, which makes it unpopular with some gardeners.
No. of broods: Two. The markings on the second brood are darker than the first.
Flight time(s): First brood flies late April to late June. Second brood flies mid July to late September. The second brood is usually more numerous and slightly darker in colour. Numbers are boosted by migrants from the continent.
Winter: Pupa
Habits:Easily confused with Green-veined White in flight, but undersides are clearly different when settled. (See Green-veined White).
Habitats: May occur anywhere.
More details about the Small White

Photograph by Keith Balmer

Speckled Wood

Status: Common and widespread.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: A wide range of grasses
No. of broods: Up to three, but as they can overlap it may seem continuously brooded.
Flight time(s): Early April to late September. Numbers fall and rise as one brood fades into another, but numbers gradually build throughout the year.
Winter: Uniquely this species can overwinter as either larva or pupa.
Habits: Males perch in dappled sunlight, holding small territories. They may also patrol, looking for females. Rarely seen feeding on flowers. They normally feed out-of-sight on honeydew.
Habitats: Woodland, mature hedgerows, parks and even wooded gardens. Anywhere that provides dappled sun.
More details about the Speckled Wood

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Wall Brown

Status: Uncommon and becoming rare, though could potentially be encountered throughout the county. Has almost disappeared from inland English counties, but still present around the coasts.
Size: Medium.
Larval foodplant: A variety of grasses.
No. of broods: Two, sometimes three.
Flight time(s): Early May to mid June. Mid July to mid September. A small third brood is possible in October.
Winter: Larva
Habits: Males patrol, often along a bank, hedge or wall, sometimes one following another, looking for females which are more secretive and less easily found. They are very difficult to approach and are easily put to flight, but may settle again if undisturbed.
Habitats: Unimproved grassland, clay pits, brown-field sites and woodland rides.
More details about the Wall Brown

Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

White Admiral

Status: Uncommon and local. Found in a handful of mature broad-leaved woods.
Size: Large.
Larval foodplant: Honeysuckle
No. of broods: One
Flight time(s): Late June to early August
Winter: Larva
Habits: A very graceful flier and glider. Most easily found visiting sunny bramble patches along the rides. Lays eggs on honeysuckle either at the side of the ride or, more usually, in a shady area under the trees.
Habitats: Broad-leaved woodland, along the rides and under the shady canopy.
More details about the White Admiral

White-letter Hairstreak



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Uncommon. Lives in small colonies. Probably under-recorded.
Size: Small.
Larval foodplant: English Elm and Wych Elm.
No. of broods: One.
Flight time(s): July.
Winter: Egg.
Habits: Feeds on honeydew in mature trees, but loves to visit nearby creeping thistle, where it will spend a lot of time feeding on a single flower, before walking to another. It can be approached closely and is very docile. Rarely flies.
Habitats: Woods and hedgerows where Elms are found.
More details about the White-letter Hairstreak

Wood White



Photograph courtesy of Keith Balmer

Status: Locally common in central, southern and south-western counties of England.
Size: Small. Wingspan 42mm.
Larval foodplant: Meadow vechling, bittervetch, tufted vetch and comon bird's foot trefoil.
No. of broods: One, sometimes two.
Flight time(s): May - June and possibly August (2nd brood).
Winter: Chrysalis.
Habits: It always rests with wings closed. Has a distictive slow flight.
Habitats: Woods.

Details about this the Wood White (Courtesy of Doug Goddard)

The Wood White is a key species among Northants butterflies. It is only locally common in central, southern and south-western counties of England, and the Northants woodlands hold important populations. It is most common in the woods around Silverstone, e.g. Whistley, Bucknell, Hazelborough and Wicken Woods. There are also colonies in Salcey Forest and private woods in Yardley Chase, though numbers have declined from the hundreds that were seen in the mid-1980s. Hardwick and Sywell Woods are also another site.
The Wood White is a very delicate species, small and very slow-flying, resembling wild rose petals fluttering in the breeze. The male has black smudges on the wing edges. Favourite nectar sources are vetches and particularly Ragged Robin, and the butterfly favours open, sunny rides where the foodplants, meadow vetchling and everlasting pea, grow in ditches or recently cleared areas. The butterfly always rests with wings closed and has an elaborate courtship ritual which is worth looking out for.
The butterfly is declining as woods become more shaded and overgrown. Please submit any records of sightings to the Northants recorder.