The many miles of coastline around the British Isles offers a diversity of habitats for butterflies and moths; most of these are grassland but areas of scrub and woodland add to the diversity.

Cliffs, sand dunes and under-cliffs experience regular landslips which create areas of bare ground and thin soils, ideal for many food plants. Saltmarsh and shingle habitats are particularly important for a number of rare moths.


Key features:

  • Characteristic of large river estuaries and bays
  • Larval food plants such as Sea Wormwood, Sea Plantain and Common Sea-lavender

Characterisitc moths: Rosy Wave, Scarce Pug, Ground Lackey, Norther Drab, Crescent Striped and Star-wort

Vegetated Shingle

Key features:

  • Coastal, often with sparse vegetation
  • Presence of larval food plants such as Nottingham Catchfly, Wild Carrot, sorrel and Common Toadflax

Characteristic Butterflies: Small Copper

Characteristic moths: Grass Eggar, Yellow Shell, Pigmy Footman, Toadflax Brocade and White Spot

Coastal Cliffs and Dunes

Key features:

  • Thin, sandy and/or eroding soils
  • Presence of natural grassland on cliffs, under-cliffs and machair
  • Larval food plants such as Kidney Vetch, Common Dog-violet, Sea Campion, plantain and grasses

Characteristic Butterflies: Small Blue, Common Blue, Grayling, Dark Green Fritillary and Glanville Fritillary

Characteristic Moths: White Spot, Sand Dart, Slender Scotch Burnet, Chalk Carpet, Shore Wainscot, Belted Beauty and Barrett's Marbled Coronet