Discover throngs of butterflies on Mottistone Down

A Small Heath butterfly resting on a flower

The highest land on the Mottistone Estate, Mottistone Down, is one of the best places to look for butterflies on the Isle of Wight. The profusion of chalkland flowers on Mottistone Down encourages butterflies. In fact, around 30 species sightings have been recorded here.

Three shades of blue

 
The chalk quarry around the limekiln at the eastern end of the Down is an especially good place to look for butterflies because it acts as a sun trap.
 
Summer residents include:
 
  • the vividly coloured Adonis blue (lives on Horseshoe vetch)
  • the chalkhill blue (lives on horseshoe vetch)
  • the common blue
 

Other chalk downland specialists

 
The brown Argus has a row of orange spots on its outer wing edges. It prefers to feed on rock rose found on chalky ground.
 
The distinctive marbled white appears to favour a diet of purple flowers.
 
The green hairstreak always settles with its wings closed and is well camouflaged against foliage.
 

Butterflies on the lower slopes of Mottistone Down

 
The boundary between the acid and chalk grassland is a good place to look for the powerful and fast-flying dark green fritillary in July, whereas you may find the grizzled skipper and dingy skipper difficult to follow in flight.
 
There are also graylings, meadow browns and the gatekeeper - so-called because it is often found where clumps of flowers grow in gateways.