When newly emerged, the Ringlet has a velvety appearance and is almost black, with a white fringe to the wings. The small circles on the underwings, which give the butterfly its name, vary in number and size and maybe enlarged and elongated or reduced to small white spots; occasionally they lack the black ring. They are a dark brown butterfly and similar to male Meadow Brown

Bramble and Wild Privet flowers are favourite nectar sources, and adults continue to fly with a characteristic bobbing flight in dull, cloudy conditions when most other butterflies are inactive.

This widespread butterfly has extended its range in England and Scotland in recent years. Widespread on damp grassland throughout Britain and Ireland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Browns
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 48-52mm

Conservation Status     

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low                          
  • European status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

Coarser grasses are used, including Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), and meadow-grasses (Poa spp.). Other species of grass may also be used.



Woodland rides and glades and damp grassland where grasses are lush and tall (it likes damp situations with partial shade). The butterfly also occurs on commons, verges and riverbanks, especially on clay soils. In Northern areas, it is found in more open and less shady habitats.


  • Countries: England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland
  • Found everywhere apart from northern Scotland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970s: +63%

Ringlet (upperwing) - Andrew Cooper


Ringlet (upperwing) - Ryszard Szczygieł

Ringlet (upperwing)

Ringlet (upperwing) - Tim Melling

Ringlet (upperwing)

Ringlet (upperwing) - Matt Berry

Ringlet (upperwing)

Ringlet (underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Ringlet (underwing)

Ringlet (underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Ringlet (underwing)

Ringlet (underwing) - Steve Maskell

Ringlet (underwing)

Ringlet (underwing/aberration) - Ryszard Szczygieł

Ringlet (underwing/aberration)

Ringlet (male & female) - John Murray

Ringlet (male & female)

Ringlet (egg) - Peter Eeles

Ringlet (egg)

Ringlet (caterpillar) - Peter Eeles

Ringlet (caterpillar)

Ringlet (pupa) - Peter Eeles

Ringlet (pupa)