Occurs in woodland, gardens and hedgerows. Butterflies often perch in sunny spots, spiralling into the air to chase each other.

The aptly named Speckled Wood flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight. The male usually perches in a small pool of sunlight, from where it rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low.

The range of this butterfly contracted during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but has spread back since the 1920s. It has continued to spread over the past two decades, recolonizing many areas in eastern and northern England and Scotland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Browns
  • Size: Medium 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 47-50mm

Conservation Status

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

Caterpillar Foodplants

False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum); Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata); Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus); Common Couch (Elytrigia repens).



Woodland rides and glades, gardens, parks and hedgerows. It seems to prefer slightly damp areas where there is tall grass and some shade.


  • Countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
  • Throughout England (except the far north), Wales and Ireland, and in northern Scotland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = +31%

Speckled Wood - Bob Eade

Speckled Wood (upperwing)

Speckled Wood - Bob Eade

Speckled Wood (upperwing)

Speckled Wood (underwing) - Andrew Cooper

Speckled Wood (underwing)

Speckled Wood (egg) by Peter Eeles

Speckled Wood (egg)

Speckled-Wood (caterpillar) by Peter Eeles

Speckled-Wood (caterpillar)

Speckled Wood (pupa) by Peter Eeles

Speckled Wood (pupa)