This is a large and distinctive butterfly, even in flight, as the white wing borders are unmistakable. The adults live solitary and, as such, migrate singly rather than in the swarms associated with other migrant species.

A very scarce visitor to the British Isles, with only two records - one attracted to light in East Sussex in May 1985 and a second found in the docks of East London in July 1995.

The caterpillar has not been found in Britain.

Flight Season

Adults could be seen in the UK between May and July.

Size and Family

  • Family: Hawk-moths (Sphingidae)
  • Size: Medium, 37-42mm wingspan

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) as well as willowherb (Epilobium)

This large, powerful butterfly is usually seen flying swiftly over the tops of bracken or low vegetation in woodland clearings. In flight, the males are almost impossible to separate from those of the Dark Green Fritillary, which often share the same habitats. However, both species frequently visit flowers such as thistles and Bramble where it is possible to see their distinctive underside wing markings. The Dark Green lacks the orange ringed 'pearls' on the underside of the hindwing.

Sometimes referred to as the Blue Underwing, the Clifden Nonpareil is a very large and impressively beautiful and rare moth.

This unmistakable insect is strongly attracted to sugar at dusk and will come to light but can also be seen by day at rest on tree trunks and walls. It has even been recorded flying inland from the sea.

Winter is spent as an egg on the foodplant with the caterpillars hatching the following spring when they can be found through to July, feeding at night. The pupa is made in a silken cocoon that is spun between leaves or among leaf litter.

The Large Tortoiseshell was once widespread across Britain and most common in the woodlands of central and southern England but while its numbers were always known to fluctuate, it declined to extinction by the 1960s. This butterfly has not been recorded from Ireland.

It is still common in some parts of Europe, but declining in others. There continue to be sporadic records in Britain, the majority from the south coast but some are considered to be of specimens released from reared stock rather than genuine immigrants.

A large white or greyish-white furry moth, the Puss moth is named after the cat-like appearance of the adult. The female is generally larger and also differs in having a grey hindwing and sometimes forewing.

When at rest the Red Sword-grass is brilliantly camouflaged as a bit of wood. Indeed its scientific name Xylena vetusta means ‘old wood’. It is a widespread species in northern and western parts of the UK, but is capable of long-distance flights so can turn up anywhere.

Red Sword-grass moths hibernate through the winter, starting to emerge in March. The moths visit early blossom such as sallow to drink nectar as well as feeding on the sap of birches.

The Monarch is the largest butterfly seen in the British Isles, and is also one of our rarest migrants. Known for its ability to travel large distances, the migrations in north America are one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world - where the adult butterflies can migrate from as far north as Canada to the overwintering grounds in Mexico, the west coast of California and Florida.

First recorded in the UK in 1876.

Like the other tiger moths this is a large colourful moth with bold markings. Its distinctive features are its black forewings with cream spots, yellow hindwings and a furry black thorax.

When disturbed it will display its hindwings and its orange/red abdomen to warn off predators.

It spends most of the year as a larva, from July to late April or early May, before pupating in a cocoon amongst low vegetation. The adult moth then emerges after about 20 days.

A large, strong-flying butterfly restricted to the Norfolk Broads, although migrants are occasionally seen elsewhere. Pale yellow wings with black veins and blue margins.

This is one of our rarest and most spectacular butterflies. The British race britannicus is a specialist of wet fenland and is currently restricted to the Norfolk Broads. Here the adults can be seen flying powerfully over open fen vegetation, stopping to feed on flowers such as thistles and Ragged-Robin.

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