Meadow Brown

  • Meadow Brown (male/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (male/upperwing)
  • Meadow Brown (female/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (female/upperwing)
  • Meadow Brown (male/underwing)
    Meadow Brown (male/underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (female/underwing)
    Meadow Brown (female/underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (underwing)
    Meadow Brown (underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (caterpillar)
    Meadow Brown (caterpillar)
  • Video play iconMeadow Brown (female/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (video)
  • Meadow Brown (male/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (male/upperwing)
  • Meadow Brown (female/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (female/upperwing)
  • Meadow Brown (male/underwing)
    Meadow Brown (male/underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (female/underwing)
    Meadow Brown (female/underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (underwing)
    Meadow Brown (underwing)
  • Meadow Brown (caterpillar)
    Meadow Brown (caterpillar)
  • Meadow Brown (female/upperwing)
    Meadow Brown (video)

Scientific name: Maniola jurtina

Orange and brown, with black eyespot on forewing tip.

Widespread and common throughout Britain and Ireland. Eyespots have single white pupils unlike Gatekeeper which has two and is smaller and more orange with row of tiny white dots on hind underwings. 

The Meadow Brown is the most abundant butterfly species in many habitats. Hundreds may be seen together at some sites, flying low over the vegetation. Adults fly even in dull weather when most other butterflies are inactive.

Regional variations in the spotting pattern on the wings have led to it being studied extensively by geneticists over many years. Larger forms occur in Ireland and the north of Scotland.

It is one of our most widespread species, but many colonies have been lost due to agricultural intensification.

Size and Family

  • Family – Browns
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 50-55mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP status: Not listed     
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low                          
  • European status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplant Description

A wide range of grasses is used. Those with finer leaves such as fescues (Festuca spp.), bents (Agrostis spp.) and meadow- grasses (Poa spp.) are preferred, but some coarser species such as Cock's- foot (Dactylis glomerata), Downy Oat-grass (Helictotrichon pubescens), and False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) are also eaten by larger larvae. Other species of grass are also believed to be used.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland
  • Throughout Britain and Ireland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -4%

Habitat

Grasslands, including; downland, heathland, coastal dunes, undercliffs, hay meadows, roadside verges, hedgerows, waste ground and and woodland rides and clearings. Also occurs in gardens, parks and cemeteries.

Factsheets

Similar species