Butterfly spotting in the East of England

Beautiful butterflies and moths can be seen in abundance across the East of England in the summer months. How many species have you spotted this year?

Walking with us

There may be restrictions in place on some of these walks. Please make sure you check web pages for individual places before you travel, to see if you need to book ahead and to find out the latest information about visiting.

Butterflies mid-flight at Wimpole

Top butterfly spots
Silver-washed fritillaries at Ashridge

Ashridge Estate 

The swooping flight of the Silver-Washed Fritillary is one of the most beautiful sights to be found in woodland during the summer. A small number of females have bronze-green wings, known as valezina, and one of these was spotted at Ashridge this year.

Close up of a Speckled Wood butterfly with wings spread in the sun

Blickling Estate 

The Speckled Wood is a common species found in woodland and scrub where dappled sunlight and areas of lush grass grow in damper areas. Other sightings include White Admiral, Essex Skipper, Comma and Ringlets.

orange and black speckled butterfly on grasses and thistle flowers

Dunstable Downs 

An amazing 31 species of butterfly have been recorded on the Downs and at Sharpenhoe Clappers including rare species such as the Duke of Burgundy. The Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary enjoy the variety of wildflowers and unspoilt habitat. A Large Blue was identified and confirmed on Whipsnade Downs for the first time this year.

silver studded blue butterfly

Dunwich Heath 

Silver Studded Blue butterflies are on the increase and lots of sightings of White Admirals and Green Hairstreak. The Painted Lady flies from the continent each summer to the UK and you might be lucky enough to spot it at Dunwich Heath.

A silver washed fritillary butterfly

Hatfield Forest 

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.

the beautiful black and yellow swallowtail butterfly

Horsey Windpump 

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.

Poplar Hawk Moth on Norfolk Coast

Norfolk Coast 

Found on the Norfolk Coast the Poplar Hawk-moth sometimes has a pink/purple tinge to its wings and flashes reddish-brown patches on underwings if disturbed.

Purple hairstreak butterfly

Sheringham Park 

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.

Brown Argus - Aricia agestis

Wimpole Estate 

Nature friendly farming at Wimpole has seen a 30% increase in the number of butterflies including the Silver-washed Fritillary, Marbled White and Brown Argus.

Butterfly spotting