Whether it's an urban car park or peaceful woodland, many habitats can be managed to attract butterflies and moths.


Each butterfly species has its own habitat requirements. These are determined by the foodplant of the caterpillar, the nectar source for the adult butterfly and the conditions needed for the caterpillar to survive and then pupate successfully. Some butterflies are happy to live and feed on several plants and can breed in a variety of places, including gardens and parks. Others are fussier and have very specific requirements.

Habitat specialist butterflies and moths can disappear rapidly if the environment they rely on changes. Habitat loss is the main cause of the decline of butterflies and moths. Land management techniques such as the intensification of farming and forestry, industrial development of buildings and roads and climate change all have an impact.

Find out about the places butterflies and moths live and the practical measures needed to protect and manage the environment different species rely on.o be beside the seaside, on the shoreline with sea or among the coastal cliffs and dunes.


Chalk Hill Blue - Peter Eeles

Grassland and Heathland

Rolling meadows, pastures and heathland provide the perfect habitat for wildflowers to thrive for butterflies and moths.

Swallowtail (upperwing) - Iain Leach


Marshes, fens and bogs are home to a variety of plants suited to wetter conditions that some butterflies and moths thrive on. 

Purple Emperor - Iain H Leach

Woodland and Scrub

Butterflies and moths are generally found within the open, sunny glades and rides of woods but some prefer the tree canopy. 

Humming-bird Hawk-moth

Urban and Post Industrial

Gardens are invaluable as nectar sources. Abandoned industrial areas are often overlooked habitats.

Small Skipper - Heath McDonald

Farmland and Hedgerows

Farmland is a key habitat, particularly those farms with areas of species-rich grassland, hedgerows & field margins.

Small Copper Butterfly - Matt Berry


Some butterflies and moths do love to be beside the seaside, on the shoreline with sea or among the coastal cliffs and dunes.

Green-veined White - Iain H Leach

Mountains and Moorland

Mountain tops, moorland and upland grasslands are home to butterflies and moths wanting to live the high life.

Emperor moth (male) - Iain Leach

Habitat downloads

Want more information about butterfly and moth habitats? Take a look at our free downloads and factsheets.