Thursday, 5 June 2014

Early Summer Butterflies

We've had some fine weather over the last couple of weeks, warm enough to bring out the butterflies.  That said, they don't seem to be out in any great numbers, although there seem to be more white butterflies than their more colourful cousins.

I'm learning that, in order to get an identification, it's best if a butterfly shows both the top and undersides of his wings, something which this one did, and which suggests he's a small white.

This small heath was spotted at Sanna.  He took some chasing before a picture was possible, but he sat with his wings closed and refused to open them - until he suddenly flew off.  The local butterflies need some training.

This beautiful little butterfly was photographed sunning himself with his wings wide open - but I now wish that he'd closed them as it appears that, to identify a fritillary like this one with any certainty, it's essential to see the underside of the wing.  The head of the chive flower is about 35mm across, which makes the butterfly about 45mm, so I'm guessing he's a pearl-bordered fritillary rather than the small pearl bordered fritillary.


  1. Hi Jon, Good photos, as ever, but I would suggest that your small white is in fact Green-veined White, evident from the dark lines/veins on the underside of the hind wing; by far the commonest white hereabouts. From the patterning on the upper wing of the fritillary I would venture that this is Small Pearl-bordered; id of each can be possible from the position of the dark chevrons being either joined, or not, to the outer border. In this case the chevrons are joined, thus id as Small P-b seems safe. As you say, a look at the underside would be desirable for positive id but it's never quite that easy...

  2. Sorry, Jon, the white is a Green-veined White (Pieris napi). Notice the way the dark colouration hugs the veins on the underside; especially of the hind wing. As you say, both sides are important with many butterfly identifications.

  3. Notoriously difficult are the Fritillaries to identify. This web page may be valuable help in deciding if you have a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary or a Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

    It appears you have a fine photograph of the Small version.

  4. Many thanks, Tom and Derryck, for your comments. I'm in an enviable position that I can have a stab at an id and then have it confirmed - or otherwise. Very grateful for your help. Jon