The Nymphalidae family is very large and divided into subfamilies with the Nymphalinae shown on this page. These are the Butterflies that Lorraine and I have spotted so far in either our Garden or the bank at the back of the garden since we began back in late July 2000. Where possible we try to image the different sexes if there is an obvious difference between them.
They are presented in the order in which we usually first see them.
Lorraine and I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures - even though they are probably not the best ever taken of Butterflies!
The Peacock has to be one of the most recognizable butterfly with its distinctive spots. It is widespread throughout England, Wales, Ireland and southern Scotland. It is one of the Butterflies that can hibernate through the winter and as such can often be amongst the first of the butterflies to appear in March or early April however new adults tend to appear from July onwards to September and October depending on how warm the weather remains in those months. It enjoys a wide range of habitats and is often a visitor to garden buddleias although food plants tend to be Willows, Teasels and Thistles. They also like nettle patches for laying their eggs.
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
The Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly is probably one of the most common and most recognizable of the butterflies in the UK. It is widespread throughout the UK and Ireland and like the Peacock, adults can hibernate over winter emerging with the first signs of warm weather in March or early April. There are at least two broods per year with the first appearing in June to July and the second late August and early September depending on how warm it is. They have a huge habitat range and prefer Common and Small Nettles as food plants. Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies appear migratory in nature and to cover large distances at times.
The Comma Butterfly is quite distinctive with its scalloped edges to its wings making it look from the side like a dried leaf. It is widespread through out England and Wales and seems quite adaptable depending on the weather conditions. It can hibernate over winter and becomes active in March and April but tends to have at least two broods per year with the new emerging butterflies appearing in July and late August/September. Like many of the Fritillary’s the most common food plant is the Common Nettle but it does seem to like our Valeria as well. Open woodland and gardens seem to be popular habitats. There is s subtle difference in the upper wing markings between the sexes which usually means close examination to differentiate between them but the easiest way is to look for the white marking on the underside that gives the butterfly its common name - a comma or mark shapeed like the letter C. The male Comma has the ‘C’ mark almost completely enclosed whilst the female is a letter ‘C’ on its back.
Red Admiral Butterfly
The Red Admiral Butterfly is stunning and distinctive with its orange/red band diagonally across its upper wings. It is a migratory butterfly that can over winter in the southernmost areas of the UK but often the first sightings are from migrants in the early spring. Most examples seen up to May and June are migrants but after that the first local butterflies begin to emerge over the Summer and into the Autumn months. Food plants are usually the Common Nettle but the Small Nettle can also serve for them plus our own observations seem to suggest Vallerium and Buddleia are also common food plants. The Red Admiral spreads across the whole of the UK and Ireland as the Summer progresses and can occasionally be seen even in October and November if these months are warm.
Painted Lady Butterfly
The Painted Lady butterfly is another migrant whose numbers fluctuate from year to year depending on the weather. It spreads across the UK as it migrates from Europe but has few numbers in Ireland and Scotland. Some years it produces masses of butterflies whilst in others years it is either absent or is few in numbers. Food plants include Thistles, Common Nettles and in gardens, Buddleia. If the weather is particularly favourable it’s possible to get early migrants in February but most main migrations reach most of the UK by June/July.
White Admiral Butterfly
This was the anomaly in our observations from Horncastle. I (Paul) briefly saw this butterfly pass directly over me and then up and over the bund on Sunday July 29th 2001 and it was clearly an ‘Admiral’ but there was no red or orange at all - leading us to the White Admiral. It is supposed to be in Lincolnshire but only Paul saw it and only the once so we have to conclude it was a one off event. Except that is is no longer an anomaly. On Sat afternoon July 10th 2010 a White Admiral flew round Paul and landed long enough in our garden for him to grab some piccies - to say we’re thrilled and delighted to see it is an understatement! It then visited us again in 2014 but not since.