Butterfly spotting on the Isle of Wight

Full to bursting with great habitats and slightly warmer than mainland Britain, the Isle of Wight is an ideal place to spot butterflies with prime butterfly sites 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, with another three that are regular visitors.
 
The rare Glanville fritillary butterfly, can be found on the Island but almost nowhere else in Britain. This delicate orange and brown chequered butterfly makes its home on coastal grasslands or cliff tops and south-facing chalk downland. It's named after Lady Eleanor Glanville who first found the butterfly in England in the 1690s.
 
A male Glanville fritillary enjoys the sun

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 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 the common, Adonis and small blue species too.
  • Borthwood and Walters Copse are great 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.

You could also take a gentle stroll through the varied habitats at Newtown National Nature Reserve on an easy 4 mile walk, taking in everything from salt marshes to wildflower meadows.