Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and our environment
Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Suffolk's Butterflies

On this page - click on heading to go to section
Flight Times of Butterflies      First Sightings      Foodplants of Butterflies      Recommended Books about Butterflies and Moths

Butterfly Conservation is dedicated to conserving both butterflies and moths. For information about the status of moths in Suffolk, please visit the Suffolk Moths website.   Click here to visit the Suffolk Moths website

35 species of butterfly occur naturally in Suffolk, including regular migrants and the newly-arrived Silver-washed Fritillary.

Flight Times Of Suffolk Butterflies
Note:  Flight periods based on results from transects & Suffolk Butterfly records 2000 to 2013
Marbled White and Chalkhill Blue are shown in italics as more information is required to accurately determine their current Suffolk status.
The released Purple Emperor flies at Theberton in July/Augus


To see where the butterflies can be seen click here to look at the Distribution Maps

First Sightings - as reported by email to sightings@suffolkbutterflies.org.uk

Species Name Earliest Record 2013 2014 (bold is new earliest date) 2015 (bold is new earliest date) 2016 (bold is new earliest date) 2017 (bold is new earliest date)
Small Skipper 17 May 30 Jun 13 Jun 20 Jun 6 Jun 24 May
Essex Skipper 29 May 7 Jul 23 Jun 24 Jun 27 Jun 14 Jun
Large Skipper 21 May 25 Jun 25 May 1 Jun 7 Jun 25 May
Dingy Skipper 25 Apr 26 May 9 May 13 May 7 May 29 Apr
Swallowtail 28 May 17 Jul 17 Jul 16 Aug 6 Jun  
Clouded Yellow 23 Apr 23 Jun 7 Jun 17 May 2 Jul 1 JUn
Brimstone 7 Jan 19 Feb 2 Jan 6 Mar 7 Feb 20 Feb
Large White 18 Mar 2 May 12 Mar 5 Apr 2 Apr 28 Mar
Small White 21 Feb 20 Apr 9 Mar 5 Mar 17 Mar 29 Mar
Green-veined White 11 Mar 20 Apr 15 Mar 7 Apr 13 Apr 15 Mar
Orange Tip 23 Mar 21 Apr 19 Mar 7 Apr 8 Apr 15 Mar
Green Hairstreak 9 Apr 3 May 20 Apr 15 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr
Purple Hairstreak 3 Jun 5 Jul 15 Jun 25 Jun 1 Jul 14 Jun
White-letter Hairstreak 2 Jun 6 Jul 26 Jun 30 Jun 2 Jul 13 Jun
Brown Hairstreak       9 Sep 8 Aug 5 Aug
Small Copper 20 Mar 1 May 5 Apr 7 Apr 28 Apr 25 Mar
Silver-studded Blue 30 May 21 Jun 7 Jun 9 Jun 15 Jun 1 Jun
Brown Argus 23 Apr 27 May 16 May 8 May 17 May 7 May
Common Blue 7 Apr 26 May 15 May 11 May 3 May 12 May
Holly Blue 18 Mar 23 Apr 30 Mar 7 Apr 2 Apr 15 Mar
Chalkhill Blue 31 Jul 12 Aug 15 Jul 20 Jul 20 Jul 20 Aug
Long-tailed Blue   15 Aug   9 Aug 23 Aug 9 Jul
Silver-washed Fritillary 20 Jun 8 Jul 17 Jun 29 Jun 24 Jun 13 Jun
White Admiral 7 Jun 5 Jul 6 Jun 29 Jun 26 Jun 14 Jun
Purple Emperor 30 Jun 13 Jul 23 Jun 7 Jul 15 Jul 23 Jun
Red Admiral 1 Jan 9 Jan 13 Jan 2 Jan 23 Jan 8 Jan
Painted Lady 20 Feb 26 May 1 Apr 15 Apr 9 May 2 Apr
Small Tortoiseshell 1 Jan 5 Mar 16 Feb 27 Jan 25 Feb 17 Feb
Large Tortoishell     10 Mar   5 May  
Scarce Tortoiseshell     27 Mar 15 Apr    
Peacock 1 Jan 4 Feb 2 Jan 15 Feb 25 Jan 24 Jan
Comma 15 Jan 5 Mar 2 Mar 13 Feb 24 Feb 20 Feb
Camberwell Beauty         5 Oct  
Marbled White 7 Jun 10 Jul 2 Jul 26 Jun 27 Jun 15 Jun
Speckled Wood 26 Mar 21 Apr 29 Mar 10 Mar 2 Apr 26 Mar
Wall Brown 1 Apr 27 May 9 May 15 May 15 May 30 Apr
Grayling 21 Jun 17 Jul 25 Jun 3 Jul 6 Jul 26 Jun
Gatekeeper 10 Jun 11 Jul 30 Jun 18 Jun 6 Jul 14 Jun
Meadow Brown 5 May 25 Jun 3 Jun 11 Jun 10 Jun 21 May
Ringlet 3 Jun 5 Jul 10 Jun 11 Jun 21Jun 11 Jun
Small Heath 24 Apr 16 May 4 May 4 May 12 May 28 Apr

Suffolk's Butterflies, their BAP* status and larval foodplants

Species Name Scientific Name UK BAP* Status Suffolk Status Larval Foodplant
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris Not listed Common Resident Yorkshire Fog, Creeping Soft and False brome grasses
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola Not listed Common Resident Cock’s Foot and Creeping Soft grass
Large Skipper Ochlodes venata Not listed Common resident Cock’s Foot grass and some other grasses
Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages Priority Species Very rare resident Bird’s-foot trefoil
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Not listed
Occasional visitor or migrant, from Norfolk or the continent
Norfolk - Milk Parsley
Continental - Wild Carrot
Clouded Yellow Colias croceus Not listed Rare migrant Clover, Lucerne and Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Not listed Common resident, particularly in west Suffolk Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn
Large White Pieris brassicae Not listed Very Common resident Crucifers.  Cultivated or wild brassicas
Small White Pieris rapae Not listed Very Common resident Crucifers.  Cultivated or wild brassicas
Green-veined White Pieris napi Not listed Very Common resident Cuckoo Flower, Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard
Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines Not listed Very common resident Cuckoo Flower, Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard
Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi Not listed Local resident, mainly in the Sandlings and the Brecks Gorse, Broom, Rockrose, Bird's Foot Trefoil
Purple Hairstreak Quercusia quercus Not listed Resident Most oaks
White-letter Hairstreak Strymonidia w-album Priority Species Scarce resident, Suffolk BAP species Elm
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Not listed Resident, most numerous in the Sandlings and Brecks Common and Sheep’s Sorrel and Dock spp
Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus Priority Species Rare resident confined to the Sandlings, Suffolk BAP species Heather, Bell Heather, Rock-rose, Bird's Foot Trefoil
Brown Argus Aricia agestis Not listed Common resident Common Stork’s-bill, Dove’s-foot Cranesbill and Rock-rose
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus Not listed Common resident Bird’s-foot Trefoil, other trefoils
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus Not listed Common resident Holly (spring), Ivy (autumn). 
Also other shrubs
Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia Not listed Recent scarce resident Commmon Dog Violet
White Admiral Limenitis camilla Priority species
Scarce resident, Suffolk BAP species
Honeysuckle
Purple Emperor Apatura Iris Not listed Recent scarce resident Sallow, Goat Willow
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Not listed Common resident and migrant Common Stinging Nettle and Small Nettle
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui Not listed Common mgrant Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle and Stinging Nettle
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae Not listed Common resident and migrant Stinging Nettle and Small Nettle
Peacock Inachis io Not listed Common resident Stinging Nettle
Comma Polygonia c-album Not listed Resident Stinging Nettle, occasioinally Hop, Currant, Elm or Sallow
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Not listed Increasingly common resident Many grasses inc False Brome, Cock’s Foot and Yorkshire Fog
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera Study species Declining resident Grasses inc Cock’s Foot
Grayling Hipparchia semele Priority species
Resident, confined to the Sandlings and Brecks, Suffolk BAP species
Fine grasses on sandy soil
Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus Not listed Common resident Narrow blade grasses inc fescues and bents
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina Not listed Common resident Narrow blade meadow grasses inc fescues and bents
Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus Not listed Common resident Tufted Hair-grass and many other grasses
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus Study species Declining resident, especially away from the Sandlings and Brecks Narrow blade grasses inc fescues and bents
Species Name Scientific Name UK BAP Status Suffolk Status  

* BAP = Biodiversity Action Plan.

Click here for more information about the National BAP

Click here for information about the Suffolk BAP

Recommended Books on Butterflies and Moths
The following are recommended for identification and reference. Most are stocked by Suffolk Public Libraries. Look at them there before buying

British Butterflies
(in ascending cost; retail price quoted – many are cheaper from booksellers websites)

Butterfly Identification Guide (folding plastic)  by the Field Studies Council. 3 from Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

The Butterflies of Suffolk , 1986, by Howard Mendel & Steve Piotrowski. Published by Suffolk Naturalists' Society. 5 from SNS [You can order from the Museum by phone, 01473 433547].

The Millennium Atlas of Suffolk Butterflies, 2001, by Richard Stewart. Published by Suffolk Naturalists'Society. 5 from SNS [You can order from the Museum by phone, 01473 433547].

Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain, Second Edition, 2015, by Richard Lewington. British Wildlife Publishing.  10.

Britain's Butterflies, Third Edition 2015 , by David Newland, David Tomlinson & Rob Still. Wild Guides. 12.50.

Discovering Butterflies in Britain by Prof David Newland 2006 WildGuides. Where to find particular species. (ISBN 10903657-121-1 - 16.63.

The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, Edition 3, 2014, by Jeremy Thomas & Richard Lewington. British Wildlife Publishing.  Excellent detail. 29 hardback/ 16.65 Paperback

Butterflies of Britain and Ireland: A Field and Site Guide (Paperback), 2011, Michael Easterbrook (recorder for Kent Butterfly Conservation).  As well as details and photos of all species there are notes on the history of each butterfly in the UK, maps showing current and historic distribution and a site guide.  Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN: 9781408127704 29.99

The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland, 2000, Asher et al. Oxford University Press. 30.

A Butterfly Notebook, 2003, Douglas Hammersley, The Book Guild. 25 or less for paperback.  This is not a comprehensive field guide, but a wonderful collection of large scale illustrations by a local artist, accompanied by informative anecdotes about each species.

The Butterfly Isles: A Summer In Search Of Our Emperors And Admirals, 2011. Patrick Barkham ISBN: 9781847083159 10 paperback   One man's year-long hunt for all 59 species of British butterfly, is a beguiling piece of amateur nature writing.  From the Adonis Blue to the Dingy Skipper, the author stops at nothing in his obsessive and engaging attempts to uncover each of these wonderfully ethereal creatures. Astonishingly detailed in its description of the natural world, this bewitching story is packed with family anecdotes and the genial humour of a patient man and a true fanatic.  

British Moths
Comprehensive volumes are pricey.  Order these from the library, and decide how serious you are

Colour Identification Guide to the Moths of the British Isles - Skinner, 2009  This edition is a major update of his standard work.  Apollo Books. 48.  Provides pictures of set specimens of all the British macro moths, showing the range of variation and geographic forms.

Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain & Ireland by Paul Waring & Martin Townsend with illustrations by Richard Lewington, 2003. 29.95. Something of a breakthrough because it illustrates them wings folded, as well as set.

Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain & Ireland by Paul Waring & Martin Townsend with illustrations by Richard Lewington, 2007. 12.95. A simplified version of the 2003 Field Guide above. Features the same illustrations in a ring binder facing an abbreviated text on each species. Excellent for use in the field, and good value.

British Moths and butterflies – a photographic guide Manley, 2008  A & C Black.  An excellent compilation of photographs of micromoths, butterflies and all our macro moths, with good pictures of caterpillars too. A massive amount of information squeezed into a 350 page softback. 21.

Enjoying Moths Leverton, Roy, 2001 Poyser Natural History - this is a super book, inspirational and readable, though not a comprehensive identification guide. About 27 from Amazon.

Britain's Day-flying Moths. Newland, Still & Swash, 2013. Wild Guides. 18 or less from Amazon.

Butterfly Gardening & Specialist

Gardening for Butterflies, Bees and other beneficial insects, 2010 by Jan Miller 18 from www.7wells.co.uk      [Use code: “BUTTERFLY”]

Breeding the British Butterflies by P. W. Cribb 4 from AES Publications Tel:01277 224610.

The Amateur Entomologists’ Society have a wide range of other publications, indexed on their website: www.amentsoc.org

European Butterflies

Collins Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain & Europe by Tolman & Lewington, Collins. 2008 edition 19.50 or earlier editions secondhand around 15.

Butterflies of Europe by Tristan Lafranchis, 2004 Paris; Diatheo, 38 softback with a DVD or 33.50 for the book alone. With a unique key to the identification of 440 species supported by close-up photography.

Stockists for specialist entomological books (new and secondhand):

Ian Johnson, Pemberley Books - www.pemberleybooks.com

David Dunbar, Aurelian Books - dgldunbar@aol.com <mailto:dgldunbar@aol.com

Atropos Books - books@atropos.info - 01797 367866.

Abe Books - a good source for second-hand books.  This is a marketplace for local bookshops.  www.abebooks.co.uk

Butterfly Conservation no longer sell books (with the exception of their own publications).

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