Butterflies and more

Peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies on thistles at Charlecote Park

Take a stroll in the sunshine and see what butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies or moths you glimpse as you go.

What to look for out of the window:

Peacock

This common butterfly can use the dramatic eye spot patterns on its wings to scare off predators such as birds.

The beautiful Peacock butterfly can be found from late spring through to early autumn
Peacock butterfly on a flower
The beautiful Peacock butterfly can be found from late spring through to early autumn

Red admiral

This widespread butterfly usually migrates to the UK each summer from central Europe.

Red Admiral butterfly near the Gunby greenhouse
Red Admiral butterfly near the Gunby greenhouse
Red Admiral butterfly near the Gunby greenhouse

What to look for in the garden:

Small tortoiseshell

Look out for the yellow and blue markings that distinguish this butterfly from the similar looking painted lady.

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on Gunby's lavender
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on lavender
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on Gunby's lavender

Orange-tip

The male butterfly is unmistakeable; white with bright orange tips to its wings. The female has grey-black wingtips not orange. They can be found feeding on nectar in a wide variety of habitats.

Look out for orange tip butterflies
An orange tip butterfly resting on a wildflower
Look out for orange tip butterflies

Hummingbird hawk-moth

This moth could easily be mistaken for the humming bird it’s named after. With a 4cm wing span, this summer visitor from Europe feeds on nectar with a long proboscis and makes an audible hum when it flies.

It's not easy to photograph these fast moving moths
Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the Gunby gardens
It's not easy to photograph these fast moving moths

Buff-tip moth

Sometimes these well camouflaged moths can be found resting in the day, but they really come to life after midnight.

A buff tip moth cunningly disguised as a small twig
A close up of a buff tip moth on a green leaf
A buff tip moth cunningly disguised as a small twig

What to look for in woodland:

Speckled wood

Look out for these common butterflies in sunny glades. They feed on honeydew produced by aphids in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers.

Speckled wood butterfly
Speckled wood butterfly
Speckled wood butterfly

White admiral

These butterflies are found exclusively in woodland, although they are not easy to spot. Adults often feed on bramble flowers in sun dappled clearings. 

Spot the White Admiral butterfly from late June to August
White admiral butterfly Dudmaston
Spot the White Admiral butterfly from late June to August

Silver-washed fritillary

This large, fast-flying butterfly also likes to feed on bramble flowers. They prefer oak woodland, like that found at Lydford Gorge, to breed in.

Butterflies like the silver washed fritillary love the sunny glades created by coppicing
A silver washed fritillary butterfly
Butterflies like the silver washed fritillary love the sunny glades created by coppicing

Holly blue

This is the most common of the blue butterflies found in UK woodlands. It can be distinguished from the common blue by the lack of orange dots on the undersides of the wings.

Stockbridge Down is a nectar oasis for butterflies like the holly blue
Close up of holly blue butterfly on green leaf
Stockbridge Down is a nectar oasis for butterflies like the holly blue

Comma

The key identification feature of this butterfly is its ragged looking shape.

Comma butterfly
Comma butterfly
Comma butterfly

What to look for by the river:

Golden-ringed dragonfly

These large striking dragonflies are usually found around streams and rivers. Can you spot their bright green eyes? In this species the male and female look similar.

You'll see these golden ringed dragonflies around the pools in the Valley
Golden ringed dragonfly up close on a branch
You'll see these golden ringed dragonflies around the pools in the Valley

Beautiful demoiselle

These emerald damselflies are usually seen flitting around the banks of the river. The males are emerald while the females are golden - being harder to spot they have a better chance of mating and laying eggs.

Beautiful demoiselle damselfly living up to its name
Beautiful demoiselle damselfly living up to its name
Beautiful demoiselle damselfly living up to its name