With open rides and sunny coppice plots, Queenswood is a fantastic place for spotting woodland butterflies. Below is a list is of all the butterfly species that have been recorded at Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum since our monitoring began in 2012.
In 2017, we increased the level of woodland management on site – widening rides (grass-lined paths), creating open glades and thinning densely wooded areas. This was to create more open areas woodland where light reaches the woodland floor and woodland wildflowers thrive. This is great for butterflies who need these woodland flowers, grasses and brambles for nectar and egg laying.
This enhanced management should lead to both an increase in the numbers of butterflies and in the variety of species. We would hope this to be reflected in the data we collect from 2020 onwards. (*Globally and nationally, butterfly populations can vary widely year on year, affected by climate and localised weather.)
The best time to spot butterflies is on a warm, sunny day, with little or no wind, in late spring, summer or early autumn. Let us know what you’ve spotted, email email@example.com or post on our Facebook page.
A common butterfly throughout the lowland UK, the small white can be seen on the wing from April to September. Recorded every year at Queenswood, the highest number recorded in one day on site is over 40 which was in 2018.
Another common butterfly, these are also recorded annually at Queenswood but in lower numbers. A peak of 25 sightings were recorded in one day in 2016 with disappointing results in following years. The green-veined white prefers damper environments than the small white and often does well in woodland rides so we hope to see numbers rise in coming years following work to widen the rides through areas of the woodland in 2018 and 2019.
More usually a butterfly of spring meadows, nonetheless, the orange tip has been recorded annually here, though in low numbers.
On the wing from May to October, the common blue can be seen in a variety of habitats including flowery meadows and woodland glades. At Queenswood with have just one record for 2012, one for 2016 and two for 2018. We hope as we have created more glades over the last two years, numbers may begin to increase.
This butterfly can be seen from around late March to late September. It is fairly widespread through the UK but numbers can fluctuate greatly year on year. The holly blue spends a lot of time round the tops of bushes and trees so may be harder to spot than other species. They have been recorded at Queenswood in small numbers in 2012, 2105, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Historically, this easily identifiable butterfly migrated to the UK for the summer only but, more recently, red admirals have been overwintering here too. At Queenswood, the majority of the records we have are for the summer but we have had a very few early spring records – perhaps some of these new natives?
Recorded annually at Queenswood, in low numbers, this species is more usually spotted in gardens than woodlands.
Numbers of peacock butterflies recorded at Queenswood have declined in the last few years. The peacock’s preferred habitat is woodland rides, glades and edges – exactly the type of habitat we are working to restore. Hopefully we will now see an increase in numbers over the next few years.
After a severe national decline in the early part of the twentieth century, the comma’s fortunes recovered dramatically, and it is again widespread. Recorded almost every year at Queenswood. Can be seen in autumn feeding on fruits including blackberries.
A woodland butterfly, as its name suggests, the speckled wood is recorded in good numbers every year at Queenswood, with 2015 and 2016 being particularly good years.
Gatekeeper (also known as the hedge brown)
Preferring open, sunny rides and hedgerows, the gatekeeper is recorded in low numbers annually at Queenswood.
Possibly the most common butterfly in the UK, the meadow brown is found in most habitats including meadows, woodlands and gardens. Here, they are recorded in good numbers each year.
Another butterfly which thrives in shady areas, you are very likely to see one of these at Queenswood on a sunny day in July.
This butterfly has been recorded here only in 2013 and 2015 but we’d love to see them back. Let us know if you see one!
Just one recorded sighting in 2013. The Clouded yellow is a migrant that arrives in the UK from May onwards. Usually, only small numbers turn up, but some years see mass migrations. It prefers open habitats, particularly chalk grassland.
The brimstone has been recorded at Queenswood in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019. It should be at home in open, sunny rides so we hope numbers might increase.
Though disliked by many gardeners, this common butterfly is most welcome at Queenswood and has been recorded here annually.
A spectacular woodland butterfly. This beauty is seen here every year – late July is usually when numbers peak.
Not recorded at Queenswood every year (in 2015, 2105, 2016 and 2019), this small butterfly is less commonly seen in woodlands, preferring more open habitat.
Though only rarely recorded at Queenswood (unsurprisingly – it prefers open, flowery sites), 2019 was a bumper year with numerous recordings!
A grassland butterfly, the small and unassuming small heath was also recorded here in 2019.
How we record this data
*The data referenced is obtained from butterfly ‘transects’ run weekly for 30 weeks of the year, every year, from 2012 to 2019, by staff and volunteers at Queenswood. A transect or ‘fixed-route walk’ is a recording method whereby butterflies are recorded along a set route on a regular (weekly) basis under reasonable weather conditions for a number of years.
At the time of writing, all volunteering has been suspended due to COVID-19 but if you would like to get involved in recording butterflies at Queenswood in the future, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.