Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

April ID Guide

Spring Butterflies

Spring sunshine wakes up the UK's woodland butterflies, and woodland flowers are vital for these butterflies as they emerge from hibernation. Many of our commoner butterflies will be encouraged into woodlands that have warm and sunny flower-rich tracks and glades. Download our spring woodland butterflies ID guide to take with you and identify the species you see; don't forget to send us in any sightings either via Living Record, or download a sightings form that you can print out and take with you.


Pearl Bordered Fritillary, WWT/ Darin Smith
Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Boloria euphrosyne
Seen on the wing from April to late June mainly in woodland clearings, this butterfly has undergone a rapid decline in the last 20 years. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary is mostly pale orange with small black spots on top. It can be distinguished from the small pearl-bordered fritillary by the two large silver 'pearls' and row of seven outer 'pearls' on the underside hind wing.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, John Notman/ WWT
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Boloria selene
The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has undergone a rapid decline in England. It’s flight period is from late May to July. It is similar in appearance to the Pearl-bordered Fritillary but it can be identified by the presence of several whitish pearl markings on the underside hind wings; the outermost of these whitish markings are bordered by black chevrons.


Duke of Burgundy 2 , WSBRC/John Notman

Duke of Burgundy - Hamearis lucina This small orange and brown butterfly, on the wing from mid-April to June, with rows of white spots on the undersides of its wings, is classified as near threatened and is a priority species in UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Wiltshire retains some of the strongest colonies in clearings on ancient woodland sites with either regenerating coppice, young plantations, sizeable glades or wide rides.

Grizzled Skipper, Pengannel
Grizzled Skipper 
- Pyrgus malvae The Grizzled Skipper likes warm, sheltered spots with sparse vegetation such as woodland edges and clearings. This is one of the first small butterflies to emerge in the spring, with the first adults emerging in mid-April. The adults fly from the end of April until mid-June. In warm springs this may be as early as mid-March, and in late years can fly until mid-July.
Comma in Bently Wood, WSBRC/John Notman
Comma - Polygonia c-album
Found in woodland clearings, margins and hedgerows, the first brood are on the wing March to July, the second in late August. A very distinctive butterfly with scalloped edges to its wings that are rich orange in colour with dark brown blotches. The upperparts of the wings are a dark, rich orange colour with speckled markings. The underparts look like dead leaves with the distinctive white comma-shaped mark.





Holly Blue, Tony Coultiss/ WWT
Holly Blue - Celastrina argiolus
Named after its behaviour of congregating in large numbers around Holly in the spring, the holly blue is easily identified in early spring, as it emerges well before other blue butterflies. Occurring in woodland rides and clearings, the holly blue is on the wing from March to the end of May.



Orange Tip, Tony Coultiss/ WWT

Orange Tip - Anthocharis cardamines common along the edges woodland glades and rides in spring and early summer. The males are instantly recognisable by their white wings with orange wing tips. Females are white with black wing tips and both have mottled green underwings which act as perfect camouflage when their winds are closed.





Speckled Wood, John Notman/ WWT
Speckled Wood
 - Pararge aegeria flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight. Speckled wood butterflies have brown wings with creamy-yellow spots and a small dark eye spot near the tip of the upper wing. The lower wings have a row of dark brown eye spots.
Peacock, WWT/ Darin Smith
Peacock - Inachis io
 Although common in gardens, the adults prefer to feed in open areas in woodlands, and breeding habitat typically consists of large patches of nettles in sunny areas sheltered by woodland or hedges. The stunning eyespots frighten predators, or divert birds from attacking the body.
Brimstone pair, John Notman/ WWT
Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhamni
Usually found in damp woodland and scrub, males are easily identified by their bright yellow, leaf-shaped wings, which are always closed when the butterfly is resting. The females are more greenish-white in colour, with an orange spot in the centre of each wing.
Small Copper, John Notman/ WWT
Small copper - Lycaena phlaeas
Found in many different habitats including woodland clearings and rides. Although small, the males are very territorial and behave aggressively towards any passing insects. Bright copper in colour, with brown spots and brown margin on the upper forewings; and brown with copper margins on the upper hindwings.
Dingy Skjpper, John Notman/ WWT
Dingy Skipper - Erynnis tages
Becoming increasingly rare the Dingy Skipper can be found in a variety of habitats including woodland rides and clearings. They often basks on bare ground with wings spread wide. Grey-brown wings with mottled brown markings and two rows of small white spots.