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.

The Long-tailed Blue is an exotic migrant from the Mediterranean with a handful typically reaching UK shores each year, but experts believe climate change is behind this butterfly reaching our shores more regularly and in vastly increased numbers.

One of the largest migrations took place in 2015 when 60 adult butterflies crossed the Channel in August and laid 1000s of eggs in gardens and allotments along the South Coast.

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.

The adults come to light, but do not feed. 

They overwinter as shiny black/brown pupae, below or near the larval foodplant. The caterpillars can be seen from June to September and resemble the Poplar Hawk-moth caterpillar, apart from the bluish-coloured spike at the rear.

Size and Family

  • Family - Hawk-moths (Sphingidae)
  • Large Sized
  • Wingspan Range - 70-80mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

Caterpillar Food Plants

Medium-sized, black and silver-grey moth with a white, usually broken y-shaped mark on the forewing. Lives on moorland. Often found near heather and bilberry.

If disturbed the moth displays its orange hindwings with blue-black spots and can produce a clear yellow fluid from two ducts just behind the head.

The larvae can be seen from August to late the following June. The larvae are hairy and known as the "Woolly Bear". They sometimes feed and bask in sunshine and may be seen moving rapidly across bare ground when fully grown. They pupate in a thin cocoon among vegetation on or near the ground.

The blue or blue-grey border on the outer edge of the forewing is what gives this species its name.  The darker northern form of this moth usually has a complete band of brown across the grey forewings whereas the southern form has lighter forewings with distinct brown blotches. Flies in late afternoon, early evening and after dark.

The larvae can be seen from April to early June. They overwinter as eggs in a fork of a twig on the foodplant.

This beautiful species of butterfly is one of the most characteristic of unimproved southern chalk downland, where it can be seen flying low over shortly grazed turf (typically steep, south-facing slopes).

The males have brilliant sky-blue wings, while the females are chocolate brown and far less conspicuous. Both sexes have distinctive black lines that enter or cross the white fringes of the wings.

A small, widespread butterfly that occasionally visits gardens. Females similar to Brown Argus, which lack blue dusting near body, and to female Adonis Blue, which have dark veins extending into white fringe on wing edges. The male Chalk Hill Blue is paler and, apart from the Large Blue, larger than other blue butterflies seen in Britain and Ireland.

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