Butterfly spotting on the Isle of Wight

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.

A butterfly special to the Isle of Wight

Sudmoor on the seaward edge of the Mottistone Estate is a great place to spot butterflies, especially the rare Glanville fritillary. By far the largest population in the UK is found on the cliffs here on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.

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.

Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

Walk the chalk ridge running through the middle of the Isle of Wight and spot wonderful butterflies on one of our best bits of chalk downland, including Adonis blue, small blue, dark-green fritillary and Glanville fritillary.