The Speckled Wood is a common species found in woodland and scrub where dappled sunlight and areas of lush grass grow in damper areas. This species has spread to colonise East Anglia in recent years, where it's believed to be thriving as a result of a warming climate.
An amazing 31 species of butterfly have been recorded on the Downs and at Sharpenhoe Clappers. Rare species such as the Duke of Burgundy can be seen in early summer, and you might also spot the Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary enjoying the variety of wildflowers and unspoilt habitat. To learn more, head to Dunstable Downs for their Butterfly Walk.
The Painted Lady flies from the continent each summer to the UK and you might be lucky enough to spot it at Dunwich Heath. After feasting on thistles, their British-born offspring are programmed to return south in the autumn, seeking sunnier climes to continue their lifecycle.
Many species of butterfly can be seen around the grasses and wildflowers of the Forest. They include Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Ringlet, Purple Hairstreak and Small Tortoiseshell. A recent arrival is the beautiful Silver-Washed Fritillary.
Head to Horsey Windpump in early summer for the chance to see Britain’s largest butterfly, the spectacular Swallowtail, seen only on the Norfolk Broads. Keep your eyes peeled to for the endangered Norfolk Hawker dragonfly, another rarity.
During the day, Purple Hairstreaks seldom stray far from the tops of the trees at Sheringham Park and you'll get a good view from the viewing towers. They only become active during the early evening when they can sometimes be seen performing aerial gymnastics.
For dragonfly spotting, Wicken Fen is a must. It’s one of the best places in the country to see them, with more than 20 species breeding there. Look out for the Hairy Dragonfly, Large Red Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser. While you’re there, why not pop into the Dragonfly Centre to find out more about these colourful creatures?
Butterflies are perhaps our best-loved insects; bright, colourful emblems of warmth and sunshine. Why not see for yourself and enjoy a stroll in the sunshine at one of our brilliant butterfly spots across the Thames and Chilterns?
Writers, artists, politicians and a warrior king – whose footsteps will you follow in? Discover more about the places we look after on one of our walks. As well as intriguing tales of history, there are inspiring views and wildlife to uncover.