Butterflies of the Chilterns

Butterflies of the Chilterns

The open chalk grasslands of the Chilterns National Landscape are a marvellous place to see butterflies.

There are 39 known species of butterfly in the Chilterns, each with its own habitat, which provides it with food, shelter, and place to lay eggs.

Spotting butterflies is an enjoyable pastime, but it is also very important. Recording the butterflies you see can help reveal the impact of climate change and other environmental pressures on our butterfly populations.

Here is a selection of butterfly species found in the Chilterns, including information on where you can spot them and when you are likely to see them.

Common, widespread whites

Green-veined white

A yellow-white butterfly sitting on purple flowers.

Similar to other whites but has streaked, green-grey lines on underside. Can be spotted from April to September in damp, lush areas.

Brimstone

A yellow-green butterfly sitting on a purple flower.

Buttery or green-yellow in colour. Pointy wing-tips with no black. Female is paler. Can be spotted from April to September.

Large white

A white butterfly with black spots sitting on small purple flowers.

Black marks at wing tips, continuing along the outer edge in an unbroken, “L” shape. Can be spotted from April to September.

Grasslands

Marbled white

A black-and-white spotted butterfly on a green leaf.

Large with black and white chequerboard pattern. Can be spotted in grasslands from May to August.

Brown argus

A brown butterfly with orange wing edges sitting on a green leaf.

Small, brown with strong orange ‘lozenges’ on all wing edges. Can be spotted from May to September.

Chalk hill blue

A dusky blue butterfly with its wings open sitting on green leaves.

Light, sky blue in colour with thick black wing edges. Females are brown, not blue. Can be spotted July to September.

Rough, scrubby or sheltered grassland or glades

Small copper

An orange and black butterfly sitting on a yellow flower.

Tiny, orange, triangular. Very similar to the Essex Skipper. Underside of antennae tips is orange. Can be spotted May to September.

Duke of Burgundy

A brown butterfly with orange speckles sitting on a green leaf.

Very rare. Dark brown with orange netted wing pattern. Can be spotted April to May on scrubby chalk grass with primula.

Speckled wood

A brown butterfly with white speckles sitting on a large green leaf.

Brown with white and black speckles. Found in sun-speckled wooded clearings with grasses. Can be spotted from May to September.

Scrub, hedgerows and gardens

Holly blue

A pale blue butterfly sitting on a large green leaf.

Pale blue. No orange on underside. Can be spotted from May to September, often in gardens, parks and churchyards.

Comma

An orange butterfly with brown speckles sitting on a purple flower.

Our only butterfly with a wavy edge. Orange with dark patches. Found on the edges of scrub woodland and spotted from May to September.

Red admiral

A black, red and white butterfly sitting on a large green leaf.

Found anywhere with nectar. Black with rich orange-red and white markings with blue dots. Can be spotted from May to September.

Trees, woodlands, glades and rides

White admiral

A black-and-white butterfly sitting on small white flowers.

Very large. Dark brown/black with white patches. Can be spotted from June to August in woodland and clearing edges.

Purple hairstreak

A dark brown butterfly with blue wing stripes sitting on a green leaf.

Small. Dark grey with lighter wing edges and purple-blue wing patches. Can be spotted from June to August.

Silver-washed fritillary

An orange butterfly with brown spots sitting on a large green leaf.

Large and orange with brown spots. Glides in
flight. Usually found in sunny oak woods and rides from June to September.

Chilterns ANOB

Get involved

Butterfly Conservation has a free app that will guide you through the identification of any butterfly that you see, anywhere in the UK, and allow you to add your sighting to millions of other valuable records. Simply by recording some basic information about the butterflies that you enjoy watching, even if just from your garden, you can make a real contribution to their conservation.

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