Butterfly spotting on the Isle of Wight

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Providing good habitats and being slightly warmer than mainland Britain, the Isle of Wight is an ideal place to spot butterflies, and the prime butterfly sites are on land cared for by us.

Forty three of the UK’s 61 butterfly species are resident on the Isle of Wight and nearby Hampshire, and three more are regular visitors.

One butterfly, the Glanville fritillary, is found on the island and almost nowhere else in Britain.

You can find a full list of recorded species on the website of the Isle of Wight and Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation.

Where to go?

  • One of the best areas for the Glanville fritillary is on the crumbling coastal cliffs of Compton Bay and below the Mottistone Estate. In good years they can be found on the downs inland from the coast, and even in people’s gardens.
  • Tennyson, Afton, Compton, Mottistone, Bonchurch and Culver Downs with their chalk soils are rich in blue butterflies in summer. The chalkhill blue is the most numerous but you can also see common, Adonis and small blue.
  • Borthwood and Walters Copse are good places to spot woodland species such as the white admiral, silver-washed fritillary, speckled wood and purple hairstreak.
  • The flower-rich meadows around Newtown National Nature Reserve are host to a large number of butterflies throughout most of the year such as marbled white and Meadow brown.
  • For a lovely walk plus advice on where and what butterflies to spot, follow our 5-mile Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly trail over Compton Down.