This is probably the commonist British butterfly and hundreds may sometimes be seen together, flying low over vegetation. Coloured orange and brown, it has a black eyespot with a single white pupil on each forewing (unlike the Gatekeeper which has two). Adults fly even in dull weather when most other butterflies are inactive and can be seen in a wide variety of habitats, with numbers peaking in mid July.
This butterfly is easily distinguished by its characteristic eyespots, which are supposed to frighten or confuse predators. By contrast, the undersides of the wings are very dark and resemble dead leaves. The butterflies hibernate until early spring, when they lay eggs on nettles. When they emerge in July and August, they nectar on bramble,
thistles, buddleia flowers and can be seen in gardens and sunny open woodland.
Numbers of this large and spectacular butterfly declined in the 20th century and it is now restricted to old woodland in southern England, where they fly in the treetops, feeding on aphid, honeydew and tree sap. The most common foodplant is the goat willow. They are dark with white-banded wings â€“ the males having a purple sheen whereas the females resemble the White Admiral, but have an orange-ringed eyespot under the forewing.
In flight this butterfly appears brown, due to the colour of the upper wings. However, it always rests with closed wings and the bright green undersides are then visible. It is found mainly on chalk downland, where the larval foodplant is rockrose, but can also be found on heathland, where gorse is the foodplant. Netley and Southampton Commons and Royal Victoria Country Park are places to look for this butterfly.
This orange and brown butterfly has a black eyespot with two white pupils on each fore-wing tip, whereas the similarly coloured Meadow Brown has only one. It is found in grassland â€“ particularly along hedgerows, flower-rich meadows and also in gateways (hence its name). The butterflies nectar on flowers such as knapweed, ragwort, thistles
and can be seen from July to September.
These are found only on chalk grassland sites (eg around Winchester and Portsdown Hill.) On some sites in August, hundreds can sometimes be seen flying just above the vegetation, when males are searching for females. The males have distinctive milky blue wings with a dark border to the forewings, whereas the females are brown with orange spots and blue dusting near body.
These are one of the earliest butterflies to be seen in spring, but the second brood appears in July and August. Males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upperwings whereas females are greeny white and could be confused with the Large White. The word â€˜butterflyâ€™ may originate from the yellow colour of the male. They are commonly seen in parks, gardens and woodland.