Gifts for Bird Lovers & Nature lovers

How to Identify Common British Butterflies

How to Identify Common British Butterflies

Do you know your red admiral from your peacock? Or your meadow brown from your tortoiseshell? Get to know and identify the most common British butterflies with our handy butterfly guide:

The gatekeeper butterfly is found around hedgerows and in clumps of flowers around gateways, hence its name. Its wings are orange with a brown border. There’s also a black eyespot on each forewing with two white pupils on each.

Red Admiral
The red admiral has brown or black wings with red bands towards the edges. Little white spots can also be seen at the tips of the forewings. This is a butterfly that can be found in wide variety of habitats – gardens, town centres, seashores and mountain tops!

Meadow Brown
One of our more understated butterflies, the meadow brown is brown with an orange tint. It has two eyespots near the tip of the forewings, with just one pupil in each.

Small White
The small white has bright white wings. The forewings have small black tips and a few black spots. Underneath, wings are creamy white. The large white is very similar – just slightly bigger and with a larger spot on the forewings.

Peacock butterflies are as striking as their avian namesakes. Mainly red but with vibrant eyespots on all wings, they’re a regular and easily recognisable garden visitor.

The comma butterfly is orange with brown spots. Its wings are scalloped making it look a little ragged. This butterfly gets its name from a small silvery comma shape which you can just about spot on the underside of its wing.

Small Tortoiseshell
The small tortoiseshell can be seen almost all year round in urban areas. It has right orange and black wings, the bottom edges of which are fringed with blue spots. Another distinguishing feature is a white spot at the tip of the forewing.

Common Blue
Common blues are delicate looking butterflies, usually found in grassy habitats. Males have blue wings with a brown and white border. Females tend to be brown in colour. They have a touch of blue close to their bodies and a speckled pattern at the bottom edge of their wings.

Speckled Wood
Often found in woodland, but in gardens and hedgerows too, the speckled wood butterfly is mainly dark brown in colour. It has creamy white patches on its wings, designed to act as camouflage in the dappled sunlight of forest habitats.  

So do some butterfly spotting this summer. You could take part in the annual Big Butterfly Count. Or attract a few more butterflies to your garden with clever planting and a cosy butterfly house.  

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  • Nikki Boxwild