Butterflies and Moths

Butterfly sightings 1987- 2011

If you’d like to contribute to our butterfly and moth observations for Aston’s Eyot, please fill in a butterfly checklist and send to us at info@friendsofastonseyot.org
We compile a monthly list as well as more detailed transect recording.


Aston’s Eyot and the Kidneys has a typical selection of butterfly species for woodland edge, grassland, and urban garden. A good place to see most species is along Plantation Path after midday, where the edge of the plantation creates a sunny sheltered spot.

 The huge nettlebeds support the caterpillars of vanessid butterflies (Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and Red Admiral), as well as many moths.   The Common Blue has become more frequently seen now its caterpillar foodplant (Birds-foot Trefoil) has been greatly increased by seeding it in. The Marbled White, not seen since the 1980s, was observed once more on the Kidneys in 2011; and has been seen in very small numbers each year since – we are planting to help it too increase in numbers. The Brown Argus has not been reported recently, perhaps because the short herb & grassy patches they favoured have been mostly replaced by nettles and other tall herbs.

Species to look out for: 

Small Skipper – Thymelicus sylvestris: Mostly seen July & August.

Essex SkipperThymelicus lineola: ditto. Easily confused with Small Skipper but we think most actually Essex.

Large Skipper – Ochlodes venata: Flies June-August.

Clouded Yellow – Colias croceus: an immigrant occasionally seen in late summer.

Brimstone – Gonepteryx rhamni: hibernators fly late March & April, followed by the next generation from May through the summer.

Large White – Pieris brassicae: Seen April-September – supplemented by migrants in spring.

Small White – Pieris rapae: On the wing March-October, the classic ‘cabbage white’.

Green-veined White – Pieris napi: Mostly seen May-August.

Female Orange Tip

Orange Tip  – Anthocharis cardamines: hibernators emerge in April, followed by a brood in May-June. Uses Garlic Mustard as its foodplant on the Eyot.

Brown Hairstreak – Thecla betulae: overwintering eggs have been found on blackthorn; it should be on the wing in August & September.

Holly Blue – Celastrina argiolus: The first brood flies in April-May, the second in July-August. Caterpillars feed on Holly and Ivy.

Small Copper – Lycaena phlaeas:  Seen in very small numbers here from May to October.

Brown Argus – Aricia agestis: not reported since 1994, perhaps due to a lack of food plants for the caterpillar; flies in May-June & August.

Common Blue – Polyommatus icarus: A post-hibernation emergence in April is followed by a new generation in June-July.

Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta: overwintering adults fly in late March/April, main emergence in late summer:

Small Tortoiseshell – Aglais urticae: overwintering adults fly in late March/April, main emergences in June & August-September:

Peacock – Inachis io: overwintering adults fly in late March/April, main emergence in late summer:

Painted Lady – Cynthia cardui: migrant from the continent, infrequent on Aston’s Eyot though often seen in local gardens.

Comma – Polygonia c-album: overwintering adults fly in late March/April, main emergence from June onwards.

Speckled Wood – Pararge aegeria: has a long season, can be seen from April through to October or even November.

Marbled White – Melanargia galathea serena: not seen since 1987 until 2011, Kidneys only.

Gatekeeper/Hedge Brown – Pyronia tithonus: mostly on the wing in July & August.

Meadow Brown – Maniola jurtina: mostly seen June-September

Ringlet – Aphantopus hyperantus: on the wing in July & August

Small Heath – Coenonympha pamphilus: first recorded in July 2011, rarely seen here.


Day-flying moths

Many moths do fly by day – two species to look out for are:

Cinnabar moths – and their yellow and black stripped caterpillars on ragwort in July and August

Scarlet Tiger is a showy moth flying in June and early July.

Mother of pearl moth on teasel

Night-flying moths

We are building up a picture of the moth species on Aston’s Eyot by regularly running light traps (the moths are released unharmed after identification the next morning).  So far xxx species have been found.

Records supplied by : 1987-2005 TVERC, 2010-onwards Anthony Cheke/Ruth Ashcroft/Laurie Burrell