Predominantly Red Butterflies

Where required, photos and information have been reproduced with the kind permission of Butterfly Conservation.

In each section, the MALE is shown as the top line photograh(s)...photos of the FEMALE are shown on the second line.


Peacock

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Adult                         
Larva                        

Peacock - Photograph by Jim Asher

Widespread in GB and Ireland and often seen in gardens. Red wings with black markings and distinctive eyespots on tips of fore and hind wings. Undersides of the wings are very dark and look like dead leaves. A fairly large butterfly and a strong flyer.

Resident

Range expanding.

The Peacock's spectacular pattern of eyespots, evolved to startle or confuse predators, make it one of the most easily recognized and best known species. It is from these wing markings that the butterfly gained its common name.

Although a familiar visitor to garden buddleias in late summer, the Peacock's strong flight and nomadic instincts lead it to range widely through the countryside, often finding its preferred habitats in the shelter of woodland clearings, rides, and edges.

The species is widespread and has continued to expand its range in northern parts of Britain and Ireland.

Conservation status

European/world range

Most of temperate Europe and Asia to Japan. The northern limit in Europe occurs in southern Scandinavia and the butterfly is absent from parts of the extreme south (e.g. southern Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey). Expanding at northern edge of European range.

Foodplants

Common Nettle (Urtica dioica), although eggs and larvae are occasionally reported on Small Nettle (U. urens) and Hop (Humulus lupulus).

Habitat

Peacock butterflies may be seen almost anywhere, searching for suitable breeding or nectaring sites. These are often open, sunny places in woodland where the preferred nectar plants are found, e.g. willows in spring and teasels, thistles, and Hemp-agrimony in late summer.

Large nettle patches are normally chosen for egg laying and these too are often located in sunny positions in the shelter of woodland or hedgerows.

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Red Admiral

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Adult                         
Larva                        

Red Admiral - Photograph by Jim Asher    Red Admiral - Photograph by Jim Asher

A large and strong-flying butterfly, common in gardens and found throughout Britain and Ireland. Brown/black wings with red bands and white spots near the tips of forewings. Undersides dark and mottled.

Regular migrant

This familiar and distinctive insect may be found anywhere in Britain and Ireland and in all habitat types.

Starting each spring and continuing through the summer there are northward migrations, which are variable in extent and timing, from North Africa and continental Europe. The immigrant females lay eggs and consequently there is an emergence of fresh butterflies, from about July onwards. They continue flying into October or November and are typically seen nectaring on garden buddleias or flowering Ivy and on rotting fruit.

There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.

Conservation status

European/world range

From North America across central and southern Europe and Asia to Iran, and Africa north of the Sahara. In western Europe it is a widespread and sometimes common resident from the Mediterranean north at least to central Germany where it overwinters in most years.

Foodplants

In Britain and Ireland the most important and widely available larval foodplant is Common Nettle (Urtica dioica). However Small Nettle (U. urens) and the related species, Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria judaica) and Hop (Humulus lupulus) may also be used.

Habitat

This strong-flying migratory species may be seen throughout Britain and Ireland and in almost any habitat, from sea-shore to town centres and the tops of mountains.

In spring, each newly arrived male defends its chosen territory vigorously. These territories are situated initially close to the south coast, then further inland and typically on bushy hillsides, in corners of sheltered gardens, or in sunny clearings in woodland or parkland, and may be held for a week or more if conditions are suitable for flight. Females are usually seen near nettle beds except when nectaring.

Later in the season, any flower-rich habitat is likely to attract the butterfly, including gardens where buddleias, stonecrops, and Michaelmas-daisies are all popular with Red Admirals. They also favour orchards where fruit is rotting on the ground.

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