Meadow Brown

Maniola jurtina

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) female

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) female

I often see this butterfly in my local fields, and sometimes I am fortunate to have it visit my garden. The male upperside is plain brown with a dark sex brand in the rear half of the forewing and a single orange-ringed eyespot. The female is generally lighter and has bright orange patches on the forewings. The eyespot is usually larger than that of the male, and sometimes, although rare, it may contain two pupils which may lead to mistaken identification as a Gatekeeper. Wingspan 55mm.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) male

The caterpillar feeds on a wide range of grasses.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) male

The adults fly May to October, and they are found in grassy places of all kinds, including open woodland. Common and widespread.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

Photographs taken June and July 2006, local field and rear garden,  Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2006. Camera Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.


Aphantopus hyperantus

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

The male upperside is velvety black when fresh and fading to sooty-brown as it ages. It has two eyespots on each wing but these are so indistinct they are hardly noticeable. The female upperside is always sooty-brown with two or three eyespots. The undersides of both sexes have distinct yellow-ringed eyespots. Wingspan 50mm.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

The caterpillars feed on numerous grasses.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

The adults fly June to August, and can be found in grassy places, hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings. Resident and widespread.

Photographs taken June 2007 and July 2010  in local field,  Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman.

Two Painted Ladies

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Photograph of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii), taken on August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

This afternoon, after work, I was greeted by not only one Painted Lady butterfly, nor just two as pictured, but three on the same Butterfly-bush, which is quite something to see.

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

I hadn’t seen this butterfly all year until to my delight I came home from work this afternoon and found it flying around my garden and feeding on my Buddleia. Quite a large and distinctively marked butterfly. It has a wingspan of up to 90mm.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The caterpillar feeds mainly on thistles, but also mallows.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

It flies April to October in two or three broods. Found in almost any habitat, including parks and gardens. They breed throughout the year in North Africa and migrate in huge swarms northwards through southern Europe in the spring.  It cannot survive the winter in any form in Britain or Europe for that matter, except possibly the far south in Spain. Far ranging migrant, and very common.

Photographs of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii), taken on August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

Red Admiral #2

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Photographs of Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii), taken on August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 18-55mm lens.

Speckled Wood #2

Speckled Wood  (Pararge aegeria)

Photograph of Speckled Wood  (Pararge aegeria), taken August 2016, local woodland path, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Red Admiral

Vanessa atalanta

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

This distinctive butterfly was taking moisture through its long probosis when I came across it.The upper side is velvety black with an orangey-red stripe running through the forewing and on the hindwing margin. There are several white spots towards the wingtips. Wingspan 65mm.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The caterpillars feed mainly on Stinging Nettle.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

It flies May to October, where they drink sap from trees and feed on over-ripe fruit which may leave them a little drunk and tame to gentle handling. A wide-ranging migratory butterfly, it is found almost anywhere where there are flowers and ripe fruit. Often common in parks, gardens, and orchards. An annual mass-migrant from southern Europe and North Africa, breeds in summer, and migrates back in the autumn.

Photograph taken of Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) August 2016, Boscome Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

In The Meadow

Photograph of Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) on Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) taken July 2016, local field, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

3D Butterfly Jungle

No tricks of Photoshop here. A just by chance combination of depth of field and the angle the butterfly is positioned, and perhaps its dark colouration, gives a three-dimensional impression to this image. I think it does, anyhow. Can anybody else see this, or it just me?

Photograph of Peacock (Inachis io) butterfly, taken August 2007, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2007. Camera used Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.

Three Peacock Poses

Photographs of Peacock (Inachis io) butterfly, taken May 2012, during a walk in a local field, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Speckled Wood

Pararge aegeria

This butterfly has a dark chocolate-brown ground colour on the upper side with cream blotches. The forewing has a single eyespot near the wingtip, whilst the hindwing has three or four. Females are larger than the males and have larger cream  patches. Wingspan 48mm.

The caterpillars feed on a wide range of grasses, including Cock’s-foot and False Brome.

It flies March to October, with two or three broods in the south, and one in the north. Found in woodland rides and clearings. Common and resident.

This is the only British butterfly that hibernates in two stages, either as a caterpillar or a chrysalis.

The Gatekeeper

Pyronia tithonus

Also called the ‘Hedge Brown’, the upper forewing is a rich orange with thick dark brown borders and an eyespot bearing twin highlights (double pupillate). The smaller male has a brown sex brand running diagonally through the centre of the wing. Wingspan 45mm.

The caterpillar feeds on a wide range of grasses.

It flies June to September, and is found in hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings, scrubby grassland, and gardens. The dual common name of this butterfly indicates its common sighting around hedges and field gates. Widespread and common throughout England and Wales, but absent from Scotland and the north of Ireland.


Polygonia c-album

A distinctive jagged-edged butterfly with deep orange colouration and dark brown markings on upper side. The undersides are mottled brown and resemble a dead leaf when closed. The underside of the hindwing carries the white “comma” mark which the butterfly is named after. Wingspan 60mm.

The caterpillar feeds on Hop, Stinging Nettle, elms, sallows and currants.

Flies June to September in two broods. Found in many habitats, including woodland glades and clearings, hedgerows, gardens and orchards. It enjoys basking in full sun on vegetation. Common and resident, although in the 1920s this butterfly nearly disappeared from the British landscape and was a rarity.

Amidst Shades of Blues

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

I spotted this distinctively coloured butterfly as it was happily feeding on blue lobelia which I have growing in hanging baskets.

The upperside ground colour of this butterfly is striking bright orange or brick-red, with a blue studded border to all wings and distinctive black markings on the forewings.  The underside colouration is rather dull, but this makes for excellent camouflage when resting or hibernating. Females are larger than males, but there is no other difference. Wingspan 50mm.

The caterpillars feed mainly on Stinging Nettle, but other nettles are used.

One of the first butterflies to appear in spring, even as early as February in the south. Flies May to October in one, two or three broods. Adults hibernate in tree hollows or outbuildings. Found wherever there are flowers, including town gardens and parks. One of our commonest butterflies, resident.

Perfect Peacock

This is one of my very favourite butterflies. It is called the Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io), for obvious reasons. It is a very common garden visitor, especially when my Buddleia’s are flowering, but it is not a fussy eater and it will be attracted to most nectar-rich flowers. This one happened to be an early riser, coming out of hibernation in early spring and finding my Large-leaved Saxifrage to feed on.

Photographs taken March 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire.