Lepidoptera - UK and European Butterflies and Moths

Here are some of the butterflies you will see in the countryside in many parts of the UK and Europe. There are links to larger pictures and information about each species. Also included are a few lovely butterflies from further afield.

Nymphalidae:

Monarch
Butterfly

Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus
Danaus
plexippus
Southern White
Admiral

Limenitis reducta - Southern White Admiral butterfly
Limenitis
reducta
White
Admiral

Limenitis camilla - White Admiral butterfly
Limenitis
camilla
Red
Admiral

Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta
Vanessa
atalanta
Peacock
Butterfly

Peacock butterfly, Inachis io
Inachis
io
Two-tailed
Pasha

Two-tailed Pasha butterfly - Charaxes jasius
Charaxes
jasius
Painted
Lady

Painted Lady butterfly, Cynthia cardui
Cynthia
cardui
Small
Tortoiseshel
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, Aglais urticae
Aglais
urticae
Large
Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis polychloros - Large Tortoisehell butterfly
Nymphalis
polychloros
Camberwell
Beauty

Nymphalis antiopa, Camberwell Beauty or Mourning Cloak
Nymphalis
antiopa
Comma
Butterfly

Comma butterfly, Polygona c-album
Polygonia
c-album
Meadow
Brown

Meadow Brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina
Maniola
jurtina
Marbled
White

Marbled White butterfly, Melanargia galathea
Melanargia
gala
thea
Spanish
Marbled White

Spanish Marbled White, Melanargia ines
Melanargia
ines
Southern
Gatekeeper

Pyronia cecilia - Southern Gatekeeper
Pyronia
cecilia
Gatekeeper
Butterfly

Gatekeeper butterfly, Pyronia tithonus
Pyronia
tithonus
Pearly
Heath

Pearly Heath butterfly, Coenonympha arcania
Coenonympha
arcania
Speckled
Wood

Speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria
Pararge
aegeria
Provençal
Fritillary

Provençal Fritillary, Melitaea deione
Melitaea
deione
Marsh
Fritillary

Euphydryas aurinia - Marsh Fritillary
Euphydryas
aurinia
Wall
Brown

Lasiommata megera, Wall Brown butterfly
Lasiommata
megera
Ringlet
Butterfly

Ringlet butterfly, Aphantopus hyperantus
Aphantopus
hyperantus
Gulf
Fritillary

Agraulis vanillae - Gulf Fritillary or Silver-spotted Flambeau
Agraulis
vanillae
Caribbean
Buckeye

Junonia evarete - Caribbean Buckeye butterfly
Junonia
evarete
Dark Green
Fritillary
Argynnis aglaja, Dark Green Fritillary
Argynnis
aglaja
Silver Washed
Fritillary
Argynnis paphia, Silver Washed Fritillary
Argynnis
paphia
       

Papilionidae:

     
Common
Swallowtail

Common Swallowtail butterfly, Papilio machaon
Papilio
machaon
Scarce
Swallowtail

Scarce Swallowtail - Iphiclides podalirius
Iphiclides
podalirius
Spanish
Festoon

Zerynthia rumina - Spanish Festoon butterfly
Zerynthia
rumina
     

Lycaenidae:

Common
Blue

Common Blue butterfly, Polyommatus icarus
Polyommatus
icarus
Small
Copper

Small Copper butterfly, Lycaena phlaeas
Lycaena
phlaeas
Silver-studded
Blue

Silver-studded blue butterfly
Plebeius
argus
Large
Copper

Large Copper butterfly, Lycaena dispar
Lycaena
dispar
Lorquin's
Blue

Cupido lorquinii - Lorquin's Blue butterfly
Cupido
lorquinii
Small
Blue

Cupido minimus - Small Blue butterfly
Cupido
minimus
Chequered
Blue

Scolitantides orion - Chequered Blue butterfly
Scolitantides
orion
Blue-spot
Hairstreak

Satyrum esculi - Blue-spot Hairstreak
Satyrum
esculi
False Ilex
Hairstreak

Satyrum spini - False Ilex Hairstreak
Satyrum
spini
    Paphos
Blue

Glaucopsyche paphos, Paphos Blue
Glaucopsyche
paphos

Pieridae:

Small
White
Small White butterfly, Artogeia rapae
Artogeia
rapae
Clouded
Yellow

Colias croceus - Clouded Yellow butterfly
Colias
croceus
Green-veined
White

Green-veined white butterfly, Artogeia napi
Artogeia
napi
Orange-tip
Butterfly

Orange-tip butterfly, Anthocharis cardamines
Anthocharis
cardamines
Black-veined
White

Black-veined White butterfly, Aporia crataegi
Aporia
crataegi
Green-striped
White

Euchloe belemia - Green-striped White
Euchloe
belemia
Cleopatra
Butterfly

Gonepteryx cleopatra - Cleopatra butterfly
Gonepteryx
Cleopatra
Cloudless
Sulphur

Phoebis sennae - Cloudless Sulphur butterfly
Phoebis
sennae
Small
Sulphur

Eurema lisa - Little Sulphur butterfly
Eurema
lisa
Large
White
Large White butterfly, Pieris brassicae
Pieris
brassicae
  Eastern Dappled
White

Euchloe belemia - Green-striped White
Euchloe
ausonia

Hesperiidae:

   

Riodinidae:

Small
Skipper

Small Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus sylvestris
Thymelicus
sylvestris



  Duke of
Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, Hamearis lucina
Hamearis
lucina
 

Moths:

Please forgive gaps in the moths section - we are continually updating this section of the website

Adelidae (Longhorn Moths)

Longhorn
Moth

Nemphora degreerella
Nemophora
degeerella
         

Arctiidae (Tiger Moths):

Cinnabar
Moth
Cinnabar Moth, Tyria jacobaea
Tyria
jacobaea
         

Choreutidae

Coleophoridae

Common Nettle-
tap Moth

Anthophila fabriciana
Anthophila
fabriciana
  Gorse
Case-bearer

Gorse Case-bearer
Coleophora
albicosta
Pistol
Case-bearer

Pistol Case-bearer
Coleophora
anatipennella
Coleophora
follicularis


Coleophora follicularis
Coleophora
follicularis
Coleophora
peribenanderi


Coleophora peribenanderi
Coleophora
peribenanderi

Ethmiidae

         
Ethmia
bipunctella


Ethmia bipunctella
Ethmia
bipunctella
         

Gracillariidae

Gelechiidae

 
Red Birch
Slender

Calioptilia betulicola
Caloptilia
betulicola
Caloptilia
alchimiella

Caloptilia alchimiella
Caloptilia
alchimiella
Calybites
Phasianipennella

Calybites phasianipennella
Calybites
Phasianipennella
Athrips
mouffetella

Athrips mouffetella
Athrips
mouffetella
Metzneria
lappella

Metzneria lappella
Metzneria
lappella
Anacampsis
blattariella

Anacampsis blattariella
Anacampsis
blattariella
Srcobipalpa
costella

Scrobipalpa costella
Scrobipalpa
costella
         

Hepialidae (Swift Moths):

Map-winged
Swift Moth
Map-winged Swift moth
Hepialus
fusconebulosa
Common Swift
Moth
Common Swift Moth
Hepialus
lupulinus
Orange Swift
Moth
Orange Swift Moth
Hepialus
sylvina
Goat Moth

The Goat Moth
Cossus
cossus
Gold Swift
Moth
Gold Swift Moth
Hepialus
hecta
 
Ghost Moth
Male
Ghost Moth
Hepialus
humuli humuli

Ghost Moth
Female
Ghost Moth
Hepialus
humuli humuli

 

Leopard Moth

Leopard Moth
Zeuzera
pyrina
Reed Leopard
Moth
Reed Leopard Moth
Phragmateacia
castaneae
   

 

 

   
           

 

           

Limacodidae

Oecophoridae

Triangle
Moth

Triangle Moth
Heterogenea
asella
  White Streak
Moth

Pleurota bicostella
Pleurota
bicostella
Carcina
quercana


Carcina quercana
Carcina
quercana
Diurnea
lipsiella


Diurnea lipsiella
Diurnia
lipsiella
Semioscopis
steinkellneriana


Semiscopis steinkellneriana
Semioscopis
steinkellneriana

Tineidae

White-headed
Monopis

White-headed Monopis Moth
Monopis
monachella
Tinea
semifulvella


Tinea semifulvella
Tinea
Semifulvella
Tinea
trinotella


Tinea trinotella
Tinea
trinotella
Carpet Moth/
Tapestry Moth

Carpet Moth
Trichophaga
tapetzella
   

Yponomeutidae

         
Argyresthia
albistria

Argyresthia albistria
Argyresthia
albistria
         

Zygaenidae (Burnet Moths):

Five-spot
Burnet Moth
Five-spot Burnet Moth - Zygaena trifolii
Zygaena
trifolii
Six-spot
Burnet Moth
Zygaena purpuralis, Transparent Burnet Moth
Zygaena
filipendulae
Transparent
Burnet Moth
Zygaena purpuralis, Transparent Burnet Moth
Zygaena
purpuralis
Forester
Moth
Forester Moth - Adscita statices
Adscita
statices
Cistus Forester
Moth
Cistus Forester Moth
Adscita
geryon
Narrrow-bordered
Five-spot Burnet
Zygaena lonicerae
Zygaena
lonicerae

Studying butterflies and moths...

Life Cycle

Despite some obvious differences between many of the insects that we call butterflies and those that we call moths, there is no real scientific basis for separating the two groups, and lepidopterists (those who study this insect group) treat them as a single order.

Some obvious features of many of the butterflies are their bright colours and their habit of flying by day and resting with their wings closed vertically above their bodies. Most moths are dully coloured, nocturnal insects and hold their wings flat or in a ridge shape over their bodies when at rest. But there are exceptions to these convenient 'rules': burnet moths, for example, are very brightly coloured and they fly mainly during the day.

In Britain there are about 2500 species of butterflies and moths, with moths greatly outnumbering butterflies. Looking beyond the UK, across the world some 150,000 species of butterflies and moths have been identified, and no doubt there are many more still to be discovered.

The eggs are laid on the leaves of plants suited to the needs of the particular species. Some prefer nettles or docks; others may need specific flowers or the leaves of a particular tree. The larvae hatch after a few weeks and begin feeding.

After a few months the larva, or caterpillar, is fully grown and ready to pupate. It then turns into a chrysalis. It is in this state that many species spend the winter, although some hibernate as larvae and others do so as winged adults. The cycle begins again the following year with a new generation of butterflies and moths laying their eggs.

We photograph buterflies in the wild, without catching them and, if possible, without disturbing them from their normal patterns of behaviour. If you feel gthe need to capture specimens for close study, a large net is the best way to catch day-flying butterflies. They can then be studied and photographed before releasing them. In the early evening, moths can be caught in the same way, but once it gets dark this is not very practical. A lamp, preferably an ultra-violet one built in to a trap, does the job with the minimum of effort. We pack ours with pieces of egg boxes among which the moths soon settle down. On releasing moths from a trap it is important to disperse them; otherwise, the birds will have a feast and your location might be seriously depleted of some moth species.

Butterfly Information Sources

The pictures and text on the First Nature butterfly and moth pages are the results of our own observations, notes and photography in Britain and Ireland, on mainland Europe, in North America and South America, and to a limited extent also Asia. We have also learned much from the published research and Web resources produced by many other organisations and individual enthusiasts who have studied butterflies and moths, and we wish to acknowledge our reliance on such expertise.

Additional Butterfly Information on the Web

More specialist information on British, Irish, European mainland and American butterflies can be found on these superb websites:

UK Butterflies, by Peter Eeles

British Butterflies, by Stephen Cheshire

Learn About Butterflies, by Adrian Hoskins

UK Leps, by Reg Fry

Butterfly Conservation -

Butterfly Ireland - Dublin Naturalists' Field Club

Butterflies of Ireland

European Butterflies, by Matt Rowlings

European Butterfly Page, by Guy Padfield

Captain's European Butterfly Guide, by Simon Coombes

Butterflies of France, by Roger Gibbons

Butterflies in Italy, by Robin Fox

Butterflies of Bulgaria, by Zdravko Kolev

California Butterfly Monitoring, by Dr Arthur (Art) Shapiro

Butterflies and Moths of North America - Butterfly and Moth Information Network

Butterflies of America, by Jonathan P. Pelham / Butterflies of America Foundation

Books and other Printed Resources

Asher. J., Warren, M., Fox, R., Harding, P., Jeffcoat, G., Jeffcoat, S.
(2001) The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Carter, D.
(1982) Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe. Pan Books, London.


Easterbrook, M.
(1987) Butterflies of the British Isles: The Nymphalidae, Shire Natural History No 19, Aylesbury.

Easterbrook, M.
(1988) Butterflies of the British Isles: The Lycaenidae, Shire Natural History No 24, Aylesbury.

Easterbrook, M.
(1989) Butterflies of the British Isles: The Pieridae, Shire Natural History No 50, Aylesbury.

Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M.
(2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pisces, Oxford.

Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.

Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

Harding, J. M.
(2008) Discovery Irish Butterflies & their Habitats.

Hofmann, H., Marktanner, T.
(2001) Butterflies and Moths of Britain & Europe. HarperCollins, London.

May, P. R.
(2003) Larval Foodplants of the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. The Amateur Entomologists' Society, Kent.

Moucha, J.
(1985) A Colour Guide to Familiar Butterflies Caterpillars and Chrysalides.

Newland, D. E.
(2006) Butterflies in Britain. Wild Guides, Hampshire.

Newman, L.H.
(1968) The Complete British Butterflies in Colour.

Porter, J.
(1997) The Colour Identification Guide to Caterpillars of the British Isles, Viking,
Harmondsworth.


Riley, A. M.
(2007) British and Irish Butterflies: the Complete Identification, Field and Site Guide to the Species, Subspecies and Forms, Brambleby Books, Luton. ISBN: 978-0-9553928-0-1


Sterry, P. Photographic Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe
New Holland Publishers Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 May 2001) Language English ISBN-10: 1843302659 ISBN-13: 978-1859747308


Tolman, T., Lewington, R.
(1997) Butterflies of Britain & Europe. Harper Collins, London. ISBN-13: 978-0007242344

Britain's Butterflies: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland (Second edition, fully revised and updated) (Britain's Wildlife) [Illustrated] [Paperback] D. E. Newland D. E. Newland (Author) IISBN-13: 978-1903657300 Princeton University Press; Second edition (16 Aug 2010)

Butterfly Conservation...