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   
   Dates of 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 2023
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/August


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
(date in bold is a new date of earliest sighting.  Date in blue is latest date first seen)

Species Name Earliest Record 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Swallowtail 28 May 17 Jul 17 Jul 16 Aug 6 Jun   2 Jun 25 Aug 1 Aug   19 Jul    
Dingy Skipper 25 Apr 26 May 9 May 13 May 7 May 29 Apr 6 May 15 May 7 May 9 May 30 Apr 7 May 8 May
Essex Skipper 29 May 7 Jul 23 Jun 24 Jun 27 Jun 14 Jun 20 Jun 22 Jun 15 Jun 24 Jun 15 Jun 21 Jun 24 Jun
Small Skipper 17 May 30 Jun 13 Jun 20 Jun 6 Jun 24 May 12 Jun 14 Jun 31 May 26 Jun 7 Jun 18 Jun 17 Jun
Large Skipper 21 May 25 Jun 25 May 1 Jun 7 Jun 25 May 27 May 7 Jun 25 May 12 Jun 24 May 12 Jun 24 May
Orange Tip 23 Mar 21 Apr 19 Mar 7 Apr 8 Apr 15 Mar 14 Apr 24 Mar 24 Mar 30 Mar 14 Mar 31 Mar 18 Mar
Large White 18 Mar 2 May 12 Mar 5 Apr 2 Apr 28 Mar 5 Apr 24 Feb 31 Jan 30 Mar 10 Mar 15 Apr 20 Mar
Small White 21 Feb 20 Apr 9 Mar 5 Mar 17 Mar 29 Mar 7 Apr 24 Feb 12 Mar 25 Mar 7 Mar 4 Apr 18 Mar
Green-veined White 11 Mar 20 Apr 15 Mar 7 Apr 13 Apr 15 Mar 21 Mar 21 Mar 4 Apr 4 Apr 24 Mar 15 Apr 4 Mar
Clouded Yellow 23 Apr 23 Jun 7 Jun 17 May 2 Jul 1 Jun 16 Apr 3 Jun 31 May 17 Jul 30 Apr 23 Jul  
Brimstone 7 Jan 19 Feb 2 Jan 6 Mar 7 Feb 20 Feb 14 Mar 13 Feb 8 Mar 20 Feb 1 Jan 2 Jan 16 Jan
Wall Brown 1 Apr 27 May 9 May 15 May 15 May 30 Apr 10 May 12 May 29 Apr 24 May 3 May 1 May 5 May
Speckled Wood 26 Mar 21 Apr 29 Mar 10 Mar 2 Apr 26 Mar 18 Apr 29 Mar 23 Mar 17 Apr 22 Mar 11 Apr 1 Apr
Small Heath 24 Apr 16 May 4 May 4 May 12 May 28 Apr 5 May 26 Apr 2 May 10 May 28 Apr 7 May 2 May
Ringlet 3 Jun 5 Jul 10 Jun 11 Jun 21Jun 11 Jun 13 Jun 22 Jun 13 Jun 24 Jun 1 Jun 21 Jun 17 Jun
Meadow Brown 5 May 25 Jun 3 Jun 11 Jun 10 Jun 21 May 3 Jun 1 Jun 25 May 12 Jun 28 May 11 Jun 27 May
Gatekeeper 10 Jun 11 Jul 30 Jun 18 Jun 6 Jul 14 Jun 22 Jun 16 Jun 21 Jun 2 Jul 27 Jun 28 Jun 17 Jun
Marbled White 7 Jun 10 Jul 2 Jul 26 Jun 27 Jun 15 Jun 17 Jun 22 Jun 15 Jun 23 Jun 17 Jun 21 Jun 18 Jun
Grayling 21 Jun 17 Jul 25 Jun 3 Jul 6 Jul 26 Jun 25 Jun 5 Jul 7 Jul 11 Jul 30 Jun 2 Jul 30 Jun
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary                     18 Jul    
Queen of Spain Fritillary                     9 Aug 16 Jul  
Silver-washed Fritillary 20 Jun 8 Jul 17 Jun 29 Jun 24 Jun 13 Jun 18 Jun 21 Jun 14 Jun 25 Jun 15 Jun 21 Jun 25 Jun
Dark Green Fritillary             23 Jun 29 Jun 14 Jun 9 Jul 21 Jun    
White Admiral 7 Jun 5 Jul 6 Jun 29 Jun 26 Jun 14 Jun 11 Jun 27 Jun 15 Jun 1 Jul 15 Jun 23 Jun 17 Jun
Purple Emperor 30 Jun 13 Jul 23 Jun 7 Jul 15 Jul 23 Jun 24 Jun 2 Jul 20 Jun 6 Jul 20 Jun 24 Jun 27 Jun
Red Admiral 1 Jan 9 Jan 13 Jan 2 Jan 23 Jan 8 Jan 18 Jan 8 Jan 9 Jan 22 Jan 1 Jan 11 Jan 4 Jan
Painted Lady 20 Feb 26 May 1 Apr 15 Apr 9 May 2 Apr 21 Apr 18 Mar 10 Apr 20 Apr 23 Mar 29 Apr 13 Apr
Peacock 1 Jan 4 Feb 2 Jan 15 Feb 25 Jan 24 Jan 12 Jan 14 Feb 8 Jan 11 Jan 1 Jan 11 Jan 3 Jan
Small Tortoiseshell 1 Jan 5 Mar 16 Feb 27 Jan 25 Feb 17 Feb 16 Feb 3 Feb 8 Mar 22 Jan 12 Jan 10 Jan 28 Jan
Camberwell Beauty         5 Oct 12 Oct 5 May     30 Aug 1 Sep 5 Apr  
Large Tortoishell     10 Mar   5 May   4 Jul 23 Apr 17 Mar 1 Apr   9 Apr  
Scarce Tortoiseshell     27 Mar 15 Apr                  
Comma 15 Jan 5 Mar 2 Mar 13 Feb 24 Feb 20 Feb 14 Mar 24 Feb 1 Mar 2 Feb 27 Jan 30 Mar 9 Mar
Marsh Fritillary                   5 Jun 27 May 16 May 12 May
Small Copper 20 Mar 1 May 5 Apr 7 Apr 28 Apr 25 Mar 18 Apr 10 Apr 8 Apr 29 Mar 15 Apr 29 Apr 14 Apr
Brown Hairstreak       9 Sep 8 Aug 5 Aug 2 Aug 2 Aug 28 Jul 13 Aug 22 Jul 26 Jul  
Purple Hairstreak 3 Jun 5 Jul 15 Jun 25 Jun 1 Jul 14 Jun 16 Jun 22 Jun 9 Jun 2 Jul 21 Jun 27 Jun 19 Jun
Green Hairstreak 9 Apr 3 May 20 Apr 15 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 15 Apr 7 Apr 18 Apr 11 Apr 16 Apr 8 Apr
White-letter Hairstreak 2 Jun 6 Jul 26 Jun 30 Jun 2 Jul 13 Jun 22 Jun 17 Jun 16 Jun 23 Jun 19 Jun 21 Jun 19 Jun
Long-tailed Blue   15 Aug   9 Aug 23 Aug 9 Jul 18 Oct 24 Aug 4 Sep   29 Oct 20 Aug  
Small Blue               15 Jun 21 May 27 May 14 May 24 May 6 Jun
Holly Blue 18 Mar 23 Apr 30 Mar 7 Apr 2 Apr 15 Mar 18 Apr 26 Feb 22 Mar 30 Mar 18 Jan 7 Apr 16 Mar
Silver-studded Blue 30 May 21 Jun 7 Jun 9 Jun 15 Jun 1 Jun 6 Jun 9 Jun 30 May 14 Jun 2 Jun 10 Jun 3 Jun
Brown Argus 23 Apr 27 May 16 May 8 May 17 May 7 May 17 May 26 Apr 1 May 9 May 30 Apr 7 May 8 May
Common Blue 7 Apr 26 May 15 May 11 May 3 May 12 May 15 May 15 May 2 May 7 May 6 May 19 May 10 May
Chalkhill Blue 31 Jul 12 Aug 15 Jul 20 Jul 20 Jul 20 Aug   1 Aug 22 Jul 21 Jul 14 Jul    

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

Species Name Scientific Name UK BAP* Status Suffolk Status Larval Foodplant
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Not listed Occasional visitor or migrant, from Norfolk (sp britannicus) or the continent (sp gorganus)
Norfolk - Milk Parsley
Continental - Wild Carrot
Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages Priority Species Very rare resident, can be seen in the King's Forest.  Suffolk BAP species Bird’s-foot trefoil
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola Not listed Common Resident Cock’s Foot and Creeping Soft grass
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris Not listed Common Resident Yorkshire Fog, Creeping Soft and False brome grasses
Large Skipper Ochlodes venata Not listed Common resident Cock’s Foot grass and some other grasses
Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines Not listed Common resident Cuckoo Flower, Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard
Large White Pieris brassicae Not listed Common resident Crucifers.  Cultivated or wild brassicas
Small White Pieris rapae Not listed Common resident Crucifers.  Cultivated or wild brassicas
Green-veined White Pieris napi Not listed Common resident Cuckoo Flower, Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard
Clouded Yellow Colias croceus Not listed Rare migrant Clover, Lucerne and Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Not listed Common resident Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera Priority species Declining resident, now rare.  Can be seen at SWT Carlton Marshes Grasses inc Cock’s Foot
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Not listed Increasingly common resident Many grasses inc False Brome, Cock’s Foot and Yorkshire Fog
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus Priority species Resident, mostly in the Sandlings and Brecks.  Suffolk BAP species Narrow blade grasses inc fescues and bents
Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus Not listed Common resident Tufted Hair-grass and many other grasses
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina Not listed Common resident Narrow blade meadow grasses inc fescues and bents
Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus Not listed Common resident Narrow blade grasses inc fescues and bents
Marbled White Melanargia galathea Not listed Small colony introduced (unofficially) in Landseer Park but seems to be stable.  A few spreading into W Suffolk Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Red Fescue (Festuca rubra), Sheep's-fescue (Festuca ovina), Timothy (Phleum pratense), Tor-grass (Brachypodium rupestre) and Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus).
Grayling Hipparchia semele Priority species
Resident, confined to the Sandlings and Brecks, Suffolk BAP species
Fine grasses on sandy soil
Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia Not listed Recent resident (2010) but can be seen in several woods e.g. Bradfield, Wolves  and Bonny Woods. Commmon Dog Violet
Dark-green Fritillary Speyeria aglaja Not listed A few sightings of uncertain source.  Present on N Norfolk coast. Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana), Hairy Violet (Viola hirta) and Marsh Violet (Viola palustris).
White Admiral Limenitis camilla Priority species
Scarce resident. Has increased in numbers recently.  Suffolk BAP species
Honeysuckle
Purple Emperor Apatura Iris Not listed Recent scarce resident but can be seen in several woods e.g. Bradfield and Bonny Woods. Introduced population in Theberton Woods 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 migrant Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle and Stinging Nettle
Peacock Aglais io Not listed Common resident Stinging Nettle
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae Not listed Increasingly uncommon resident and migrant Stinging Nettle and Small Nettle
Large Tortoiseshell Nymphalis polychloros Not listed Very rare migrant but seen in most years.  Now breeding in Dorset and probably Norfolk. Elms (Ulmus spp.). Aspen (Populus tremula), poplars (Populus spp.), sallows (Salix spp.) and willows (Salix spp.) are also used.
Scarce Tortoiseshell Nymphalis xanthomelas Not listed Very rare migrant sallows (Salix spp.)
Comma Polygonia c-album Not listed Resident Stinging Nettle, occasioinally Hop, Currant, Elm or Sallow
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia Priority species One sighting, an unofficial release Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis).
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Not listed Resident, most numerous in the Sandlings and Brecks Common and Sheep’s Sorrel and Dock spp
Brown Hairstreak Thecla betulae Priority Species Small colonies introduced (unofficially) in Belstead Brook Park and Pipers Vale. The primary larval foodplant is Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). cherries (Prunus spp.) also used
Purple Hairstreak Favonius quercus Not listed Resident Most oaks
Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi Not listed Resident Gorse, Broom, Rockrose, Bird's Foot Trefoil
White-letter Hairstreak Satyrium w-album Priority Species Resident, Suffolk BAP species Elm
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus Not listed Rare migrant Bladder-senna (Colutea arborescens), Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea (Lathyrus latifolius) and Broom (Cytisus scoparius).
Small Blue Cupido minimus Priority species Small colony introduced (unofficially) in Landseer Park Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria).
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus Not listed Common resident Holly (spring), Ivy (autumn). 
Also other shrubs
Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus Priority Species Rare resident most numerous in the Sandlings, also Purdis Heath.  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
Chalkhill Blue Polyommatus coridon Not listed Present on Devil's Dyke which is not in Suffolk vice-county. Present on a private site in W Suffolk Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa).
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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