30 Butterfly Species in Europe

Europe is home to a diverse array of stunning butterfly species, each with their own unique characteristics and habitats.

In this article, we will introduce you to 30 remarkable European butterflies, exploring their fascinating features and preferred environments.

Get ready to discover the amazing world of butterflies and how they contribute to the European ecosystem.

Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio machaon)

The Swallowtail butterfly is one of the most captivating and visually striking butterflies found in Europe.

Swallowtail Butterfly

They are known for their vibrant colors and distinctive tail-like extensions. Want to know more?

  • Habitat: Swallowtail butterflies prefer open spaces in damp meadows or marshes, as well as along river banks and woodland edges.
  • Appearance: Easily recognized by their large, bright yellow wings with black markings, blue spots, and prominent red eye-spot at the base of the tail-like projections.
  • Size: They have a wingspan of 65-86 millimeters, making them one of the largest European butterflies.
  • Diet: Adult Swallowtails primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while caterpillars munch on the leaves of various host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on the leaves of host plants. After hatching, the caterpillars go through several stages, eventually forming a chrysalis to metamorphose into an adult.
  • Lifespan: Adult Swallowtail butterflies typically live for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Primary host plants include various species of the Apiaceae family, such as Milk Parsley and Wild Carrot.

Next time you spot a Swallowtail, take a moment to admire its unique beauty and remember the fascinating details that make this butterfly species so special.

Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)

The Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) is a fascinating species found throughout Europe.

Brimstone Butterfly

Known for its unique coloration and interesting life cycle, it’s certainly a butterfly you’ll want to learn more about. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key features of this wonderful insect.

  • Habitat: Brimstone butterflies typically inhabit woodlands, hedgerows, and grasslands.
  • Appearance: Males exhibit a vibrant lemon-yellow color, while females are paler with a greenish-white hue. Both genders have a wing shape similar to a leaf’s.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 50 to 60mm.
  • Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on nectar from flowers like thistles, buddleia, and knapweeds.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in the spring, and females lay eggs on their host plants – the alder and purging buckthorns.
  • Lifespan: Adult Brimstones can live for about 12 months, making them one of the longest-lived butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: The alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) are essential host plants for their larvae.

Get to know the Brimstone butterfly and its captivating characteristics better, and you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the beauty and wonder of these colorful insects.

Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae)

Small White Butterfly, also known as the Small Cabbage White, is a common butterfly species found throughout Europe.

Small White butterfly

It’s a delightful sight in gardens, meadows, and other open habitats where it can often be spotted fluttering gracefully in search of nectar sources and mating partners.

  • Habitat: Open areas such as gardens, meadows, fields, and wastelands
  • Appearance: White or pale-yellow wings with black tips on the forewings; females have additional black spots
  • Size: Wingspan of approximately 3.2-4.7 cm
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowering plants like thistles, dandelions, and buddleias; caterpillars feed on leaves of various cabbage family plants
  • Reproduction: Males identify and pursue potential mates from their perch; following a spiral courtship, females lay eggs on host plants
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for about 2-3 weeks, while the entire lifecycle (egg to adult) takes around 4-6 weeks
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on plants of the Brassicaceae family, such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli

The Small White Butterfly contributes to the biodiversity of various habitats and adds beauty to the environment.

This species is also an essential pollinator, so protecting and preserving its habitat is crucial for maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae)

The Large White Butterfly, also known as the Cabbage White, is a common species in Europe and can be found in various habitats.

Large White butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at some of its features:

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers gardens, meadows, farmland, and other open areas with a mix of vegetation.
  • Appearance: The Large White Butterfly has white wings with black tips on the forewings, and often features black spots on the hindwings.
  • Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of about 5-7 centimeters, making them larger than their close relative, the Small White Butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while their caterpillars feast on the leaves of plants in the Brassicaceae family, such as cabbage and broccoli.
  • Reproduction: Large White Butterflies reproduce through laying eggs on the leaves of host plants. The caterpillars hatch from the eggs and feed on the host plant before forming a chrysalis to undergo metamorphosis.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies have a short lifespan, typically only living for a few weeks during the spring and summer months.
  • Host Plants: As mentioned earlier, the larvae of this species mainly feed on plants from the Brassicaceae family, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, and turnips.

The Large White Butterfly is a fascinating species that you can easily spot in many different European habitats.

Orange Tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)

The Orange Tip Butterfly is a delightful and widespread species in Europe, easily identified by its vibrant orange-tipped wings.

Orange-tip Butterfly

Below, we’ve highlighted some key characteristics of this lovely butterfly:

  • Habitat: Orange Tip Butterflies are often found in meadows, woodland edges, hedgerows, riverbanks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Males boast white wings with bright orange tips, while females have white wings with black tips. Both sexes have mottled green underwings.
  • Size: Adult Orange Tip Butterflies have a wingspan of about 45-55mm, making them a medium-sized species.
  • Diet: Adults nectar on a variety of plants, such as cuckooflower, garlic mustard, and bluebells.
  • Reproduction: Males actively seek out females to mate with during spring. Females then lay single eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for about a month, while the caterpillar and pupal stages encompass the rest of their life cycle.
  • Host Plants: Primarily crucifers (plants from the cabbage family), like garlic mustard and cuckooflower, serve as host plants for Orange Tip caterpillars.

Spotting an Orange Tip Butterfly is always a delightful sign that spring has arrived. Their vibrancy adds to the beauty of the awakening landscape, making them an essential part of the season.

Clouded Yellow Butterfly (Colias croceus)

The Clouded Yellow Butterfly is a fascinating species found throughout Europe. These beautiful butterflies can bring a burst of color and a sense of whimsy to any landscape.

Clouded Yellow butterfly

Let’s explore some interesting facts about this species:

  • Habitat: Clouded Yellow Butterflies typically inhabit open areas, such as meadows, grasslands, and coastal regions.
  • Appearance: They boast striking yellow wings with black borders and spots, and some females may have a greenish-white or pale yellow hue.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 5 to 6.4 centimeters, these butterflies are moderately sized compared to other European species.
  • Diet: Adults feed primarily on nectar from flowering plants, while caterpillars eat legumes, alfalfa, and clover.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs that hatch into caterpillars within a week. The caterpillars then develop into chrysalides, which metamorphose into adult butterflies after two to three weeks.
  • Lifespan: The adult Clouded Yellow Butterfly typically lives for three to four weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Host plants for caterpillars of this species include clover, alfalfa, and other leguminous plants.

Now that you know more about this colorful butterfly, try to spot some of them during your next walk through the countryside!

Small Copper Butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)

Let’s explore the captivating world of the Small Copper Butterfly.

Small Copper butterfly

This stunning species can be found across Europe, and its vibrant colors make it a popular sight among butterfly enthusiasts.

Below are some fascinating aspects of its life:

  • Habitat: The Small Copper Butterfly can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, heathlands, woodland clearings, and parks. They generally prefer warm, sunny locations with plenty of wildflowers.
  • Appearance: The butterfly features bright orange wings with a darker border and distinct black spots. The hindwings have a beautiful iridescent blue-grey color along the edges.
  • Size: The wingspan of the Small Copper is typically 25-35mm, making it a rather small species.
  • Diet: The primary food source for adult Small Coppers is nectar from flowers like dandelions, clovers, and daisies.
  • Reproduction: Females will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of host plants, usually sorrel or dock species.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies typically live for about two to three weeks, while the entire lifecycle lasts around six to eight weeks.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Small Copper caterpillars are common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella).

Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)

The Common Blue Butterfly is a beautiful and widespread species found throughout Europe.

Common Blue butterfly

With its striking blue wings edged with white and black, this butterfly is a joy to spot in its natural habitats.

Here’s a quick overview of this iconic species:

  • Habitat: Common Blue Butterflies are found in various habitats such as grasslands, meadows, parks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Males display vibrant blue wings with white edges and black spots, while females have a brownish-gray hue, marked by blue speckles near the body.
  • Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 2.7 to 3.4 centimeters, making it a relatively small species.
  • Diet: Both adult and larval stages primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay eggs on host plants, which then hatch into caterpillars and eventually pupate, becoming adults themselves.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Common Blue Butterfly is around three weeks, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: Some common host plants include Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and the White Clover (Trifolium repens).

The Common Blue Butterfly is a magnificent and prevalent species across Europe.

Its brilliant colors and intriguing life cycle make it a fascinating subject for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus)

The Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus) is a captivating butterfly species adorned with a mesmerizing blue hue.

Holly Blue butterfly

Common in Europe, it’s known for its delightful presence in gardens and woodlands.

Let’s take a closer look at some fascinating attributes of the Holly Blue Butterfly:

  • Habitat: Woodlands, hedgerows, gardens, and parks with flowering plants are the Holly Blue Butterfly’s preferred habitats. Their range extends across Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
  • Appearance: The upper wings are a beautiful bright blue with a thin black border, while the undersides are pale blue with black spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 27-34 millimeters, this species is considered small and delicate.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from various flowering plants, while the caterpillars are known to eat buds and flowers of selected host plants.
  • Reproduction: Holly Blues have two broods per year, one from late spring to early summer and another in late summer. Females lay eggs on the buds and leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Holly Blue butterflies live for around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: For the first brood, the caterpillars feed on Holly (Ilex) while the second brood’s caterpillars feed on Ivy (Hedera). Occasionally, caterpillars can be found feeding on other plants like Dogwood (Cornus) and Spindle (Euonymus).

Brown Argus Butterfly (Aricia agestis)

The Brown Argus Butterfly is a small and fascinating species that can be found across Europe.

Brown Argus Butterfly

This charming butterfly has some unique features that set it apart from other butterflies in the region.

Here’s some more information about the Brown Argus Butterfly:

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers to inhabit grasslands, meadows, and open spaces, where it can bask in the sun and feed on nectar from various flowers.
  • Appearance: The upper side of the wings is dark brown with a violet tinge, while the underwings display a pattern of orange and black spots.
  • Size: Brown Argus butterflies are relatively small, with a wingspan ranging from 25 to 30 mm.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed primarily on nectar from a variety of flowers, including thistles, clovers, and bird’s-foot trefoil.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs individually on the leaves of host plants, which later hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Brown Argus Butterfly is around three weeks in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of this species rely on specific host plants for sustenance, such as Rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium) and various species of Geranium.

Now that you know more about the Brown Argus Butterfly, you can keep an eye out for this beautiful creature when exploring nature in Europe.

Adonis Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus bellargus)

The Adonis Blue Butterfly is a striking and unmistakable species found in Europe. Its vibrant blue coloration and black borders make it a truly eye-catching sight.

Adonis Blue butterfly

Let’s delve deeper into their interesting characteristics:

  • Habitat: Adonis Blue butterflies prefer calcareous grasslands, which are rich in their preferred food plants. They can be found in southern England, mainland Europe, and parts of North Africa.
  • Appearance: Males exhibit a vibrant blue color with a black border, while females are brown with orange spots near the edge of their wings. Both sexes have distinctive white-bordered black spots on the underside of their wings.
  • Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of approximately 3 to 4 centimeters, making them a relatively small species.
  • Diet: Adonis Blue butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers like the yellow Bird’s-foot-trefoil and the purple Horseshoe Vetch.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on their host plants in late summer. The caterpillars hatch and overwinter within the grass tufts, growing and pupating the following spring.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of an adult Adonis Blue butterfly is around 3-4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their primary host plants are Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) and Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), where they lay their eggs and caterpillars feed on the leaves.

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus coridon)

The Chalkhill Blue Butterfly is an eye-catching species known for its striking blue wings.

Chalkhill Blue Butterfly

These butterflies are widespread and easily recognizable across Europe.

Here is some information about this captivating species:

  • Habitat: The Chalkhill Blue is typically found in chalky or limestone-rich grasslands with short vegetation, which provide plenty of sunlight and bare ground for them to bask on.
  • Appearance: Males have an unmistakable lilac-blue hue on the upper wings, while females are light brown with a bluish tint. Both sexes have black-and-white bordered wings and unique orange markings on the underside.
  • Size: The wingspan of these butterflies ranges from 30-40 mm, making them a medium-sized species.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, such as thistles, marjoram, and thyme, while caterpillars focus on specific host plants.
  • Reproduction: Mating usually occurs in the late morning, and females lay eggs singly on the underside of host plants. The eggs take about 10 days to hatch.
  • Lifespan: Their short adult life of around two weeks ensures just enough time for mating and egg-laying.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for Chalkhill Blue caterpillars is Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa). The caterpillars feed on these plants before transforming into their chrysalis and eventually emerging as adults.

Silver-studded Blue Butterfly (Plebejus argus)

The Silver-studded Blue Butterfly is a stunning species native to Europe.

Silver-Studded Blue butterfly

These butterflies are known for their gorgeous silver-blue coloration, making them an absolute joy to spot in the wild.

Let’s dive deeper into the fascinating life of the Silver-studded Blue Butterfly:

  • Habitat: These butterflies are typically found in heathlands, moorlands, and grassy areas. They prefer open habitats with a mix of vegetation.
  • Appearance: Males boast a vibrant blue color with black spots and white margins. Females have a more brownish hue, accompanied by orange and blue spots.
  • Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 24 to 30 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adults feed on various nectar sources like heather, thistles, and vetches.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants in early summer, and caterpillars hatch after about two weeks.
  • Lifespan: The adult Silver-studded Blue Butterfly lives for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The larval stage feeds primarily on common heather and bell heather, among other plants.

The Silver-studded Blue Butterfly is a fascinating and beautiful species with a short but impactful life.

Their stunning appearance and unique life cycle make them a captivating addition to Europe’s diverse butterfly population.

Large Blue Butterfly (Phengaris arion)

Large Blue butterflies are truly fascinating creatures with a surprisingly intriguing life cycle.

Large Blue butterfly

These endangered species are found mostly in Europe and their conservation has become a significant concern for ecological organizations.

  • Habitat: Large Blue butterflies prefer calcareous grasslands and chalk downs as their habitat. These places with warm and sheltered areas offer the ideal environment for both larvae and adult butterflies.
  • Appearance: As the name suggests, these butterflies mainly display an impressive large blue color on their wings with a contrasting black-brown border. The underside of their wings features white and orange spots.
  • Size: The Large Blue butterfly has a wingspan of about 45 to 48 mm, making them one of the largest in Europe’s Blue butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adult Large Blue butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various plants, while their caterpillars feast on the larvae of red ants.
  • Reproduction: Female Large Blue butterflies lay their eggs on the young leaves of host plants. After 3 weeks, caterpillars emerge and seek out a suitable ant colony where they are raised in a parasitic manner.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of a Large Blue butterfly is typically around 4 weeks in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants of these butterflies are Thyme and Marjoram upon which female butterflies lay their eggs.

Small Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus)

The Small Heath Butterfly is a widespread species found all over Europe.

Small Heath Butterfly

This interesting little butterfly has some unique traits and characteristics that make it stand out among the other European butterflies.

In this section, we’ll learn more about the Small Heath Butterfly, including its habitat, appearance, size, diet, reproduction, lifespan, and host plants.

  • Habitat: Small Heath Butterflies can be found in a variety of habitats such as grasslands, meadows, open woodlands, and even sand dunes. They prefer sunny and warm conditions but can also tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
  • Appearance: They have a brownish-orange color on the upper wings with a distinct, dark eye-spot on the forewing. The underside of their wings is pale with a greyish hue, which helps them camouflage effectively when resting on the ground.
  • Size: These butterflies are relatively small with a wingspan of about 25-33 mm.
  • Diet: Adult Small Heath Butterflies feed on nectar from a wide range of flowers, while their caterpillars feed on different species of grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in late spring, and females lay their eggs singly on grass blades. Caterpillars then emerge, feeding and growing during the summer months, before hibernating over the winter.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies have a short life of around two weeks, while the caterpillars can survive up to eight months, including their hibernation period.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for Small Heath caterpillars are various species of grasses, specifically fine-leaved fescue grasses and meadow-grasses (Poa).

Wall Brown Butterfly (Lasiommata megera)

The Wall Brown Butterfly, scientifically known as Lasiommata megera, is a common butterfly species in Europe.

Wall Brown Butterfly

It got its name because it’s usually encountered basking on walls, rocks, and other similar surfaces.

This beautiful creature brings a touch of color and grace to its surroundings, and its presence is always delightful to witness.

Below, you’ll find more interesting information about the Wall Brown Butterfly:

  • Habitat: The Wall Brown Butterfly is found in various habitats, including grasslands, woodland clearings, coastal cliffs, and hedgerows.
  • Appearance: This butterfly has two sides to its wings: the upside has a beautiful orange color with ornate black patterns, while the underside is a pale brown with greyish white markings. Its distinctive eyespots help deter predators.
  • Size: The Wall Brown Butterfly has a wingspan of about 40 to 50 millimeters (1.6–2 inches).
  • Diet: As adults, these butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowers such as thistles, dandelions, and bramble.
  • Reproduction: Wall Brown Butterflies usually mate in May and June. Females lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The adult Wall Brown Butterfly has a short life span of around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for Wall Brown Butterfly caterpillars are various species of grasses, such as Poa, Festuca, and Bromus.

Meadow Brown Butterfly (Maniola jurtina)

The Meadow Brown Butterfly is a widespread butterfly species found throughout Europe.

Meadow Brown butterfly

This beautiful creature is often sighted in the warm summer months, gracing many different types of habitats.

Here are some key details about this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: Meadow Brown Butterflies can be found in a variety of environments, including grasslands, meadows, parks, gardens, and even woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: Adult Meadow Browns have a dark brown base color with beautiful orange patches and a single visible black eyespot on their forewings. Females often exhibit larger and brighter orange patches.
  • Size: This butterfly has a wingspan ranging from 4 to 5 centimeters, making it a medium-sized species.
  • Diet: Meadow Brown Butterflies feed on various nectar-producing flowers, such as clovers, thistles, and knapweeds.
  • Reproduction: Males and females engage in a courting ritual before mating. Females lay their eggs singly on different grasses, which serve as host plants for larval development.
  • Lifespan: Adult Meadow Brown Butterflies have a short lifespan, making the most of their time by flying and mating over two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of Meadow Browns feed on a variety of grasses, including cocksfoot, fescue, and meadow grass.

The Meadow Brown Butterfly is a delight to encounter and an important member of Europe’s diverse butterfly community.

Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)

The Gatekeeper Butterfly, also known as the Hedge Brown, is a charming and widespread butterfly found in various habitats across Europe.

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Let’s explore this fascinating species and learn more about it.

  • Habitat: Predominantly in grasslands, hedgerows, and the edges of woodlands.
  • Appearance: Gatekeeper butterflies flaunt a delightful orange and brown color scheme on their wings, with beautiful eye-shaped markings on the upper wings.
  • Size: The wingspan of the Gatekeeper Butterfly measures around 3.5-4 cm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: As adults, these butterflies enjoy nectaring on flowers like thistles and brambles. Their caterpillars feed on grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mated females deposit their eggs singly on suitable grass blades and leave them to develop into caterpillars, chrysalises, and eventually adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: The adult Gatekeeper Butterfly usually has a short lifespan of around 2-3 weeks during the summer months.
  • Host Plants: Some favorite host plants of the Gatekeeper Butterfly caterpillars include meadow grasses, fescues, and bents.

With its charming appearance and fascinating life cycle, the Gatekeeper Butterfly is a delightful species that plays an essential role in maintaining the biodiversity of European grasslands and woodlands.

Marbled White Butterfly (Melanargia galathea)

The Marbled White Butterfly is a delightful sight in European meadows during the summer months.

Marbled White Butterfly

Its unique black and white markings distinguish it from other butterfly species, making it a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts.

Here are some fascinating facts about this butterfly species:

  • Habitat: Found primarily in grasslands, meadows, and verges with abundant wildflowers.
  • Appearance: Their wings showcase distinctive black and white marbled patterns. Female Marbled Whites have larger and rounder wings than males.
  • Size: Adult butterflies have a wingspan of 37-52mm.
  • Diet: Mainly nectar from various flowers, such as thistles and knapweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on grasses during mid-summer. Larvae hatch the following spring and feed on a variety of grass species.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for around 3 weeks, while caterpillars and pupae overwinter, revealing the adult butterflies in June or July.
  • Host Plants: Various grass species, including red fescue, Yorkshire fog, and sheep’s fescue.

Next time you’re in a European meadow, keep an eye out for the Marbled White Butterfly and appreciate its unique beauty.

Ringlet Butterfly (Aphantopus hyperantus)

The Ringlet Butterfly is a widely distributed species in Europe. It owes its name to the characteristic rings found on its wings.

Ringlet Butterfly

These butterflies are often seen flying low in grassy areas or shaded woodlands.

Let’s explore some key features of the Ringlet Butterfly:

  • Habitat: Prefers grasslands, meadows, and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: Dark brown wings with regularly sized eyelets or rings, often with a white dot in the center.
  • Size: Wingspan between 34-42mm.
  • Diet: Adults mainly feed on nectar, while caterpillars consume various grass species.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants, with the larvae hatching and feeding on the same plant.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies typically live for around 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Grasses, such as Cock’s-foot, False Brome, and Common Couch.

Now that you’re acquainted with the Ringlet Butterfly, be sure to keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures the next time you’re exploring natural habitats in Europe.

There are undoubtedly many unique features about each butterfly species, such as habitat, appearance, size, diet, and lifecycle.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Aglais urticae)

The Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly is a common and widespread butterfly in Europe.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

This beautiful species can bring delightful beauty to your garden, and is an essential part of the natural ecosystem.

Let’s learn some key aspects of the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly:

  • Habitat: They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including gardens, woods, meadows, and even urban areas.
  • Appearance: Sporting vibrant orange wings with dark markings and blue spots on the edges, it is easily recognizable.
  • Size: With a wingspan of about 4-5 cm, it is medium-sized.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars prefer stinging nettles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in clusters on the underside of nettle leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars stick around to feed and grow.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for 2-3 weeks, but the entire life cycle, from egg to adult, can take several months.
  • Host Plants: Stinging nettles are the main host plant for this species, providing both food and shelter for the caterpillars.

By attracting Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies to your garden, you’ll not only enjoy their beauty but also contribute to a thriving ecosystem.

Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io)

The Peacock Butterfly is a stunning species found across Europe that boasts vibrant colors and patterns, making it a true marvel in nature.

Peacock Butterfly

Let’s dive into some fascinating details about this wonderful creature.

  • Habitat: Peacock Butterflies thrive in various environments, including gardens, parks, woodland clearings, and even mountainous regions.
  • Appearance: The striking feature of these butterflies is their iridescent purple-blue eyespots on their wings, which are bordered by a rusty-red hue. The eyespots serve as a deterrent to predators.
  • Size: With a wingspan between 50-60 mm, they are medium-sized butterflies, often observed resting with their wings open to display their captivating patterns.
  • Diet: They primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants such as buddleia, dandelions, and thistles.
  • Reproduction: Peacock Butterflies lay their eggs in clusters under the leaves of their host plants, and their caterpillars hatch after about a week.
  • Lifespan: Adult Peacock Butterflies live for approximately 11 months, making them one of the longest-living butterflies in Europe.
  • Host Plants: Nettle plants, specifically the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) and the Small Nettle (Urtica urens) are the caterpillars’ primary host plants, as they provide an essential food source.

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral Butterfly is a striking and well-known butterfly species found across Europe.

red-admiral butterfly

This adaptable and gorgeous insect has a few fascinating characteristics and behaviors that make it stand out.

Here are some key facts about the Red Admiral Butterfly:

  • Habitat: These butterflies inhabit a wide range of environments, such as woodlands, gardens, parks, and even urban areas.
  • Appearance: The Red Admiral has velvety black wings with a prominent orange-red band on the forewings and hindwings, accompanied by white spots near the wingtips.
  • Size: This medium-sized butterfly has a wingspan ranging from 64 to 78 mm.
  • Diet: Adult Red Admirals feed on nectar from various flowering plants, while the caterpillars prefer stinging nettles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the host plants, which allow the hatched caterpillars to feed and grow.
  • Lifespan: Adult Red Admirals live for about six weeks, while the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes around 30 to 45 days.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for Red Admiral caterpillars is the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), but they can also be found on other nettle species.

Now that you know more about the captivating Red Admiral Butterfly, you may find yourself eagerly searching for its vibrant colors in your local environment.

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady Butterfly, scientifically known as Vanessa cardui, is a well-known and eye-catching butterfly that can be found in many parts of Europe.

painted lady butterfly

Known for their beautiful appearance and fascinating life cycle, these butterflies are truly a treasure to behold.

  • Habitat: These butterflies are highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, including gardens, meadows, and even deserts.
  • Appearance: Painted Ladies boast an intricate pattern of orange, black, and white markings on their wings, with a touch of blue and pink at the wingtips.
  • Size: Adults typically have a wingspan of around 5 – 9 centimeters.
  • Diet: They mostly feed on nectar from flowers but also occasionally consume aphid honeydew.
  • Reproduction: Female Painted Ladies can lay up to 500 eggs, primarily on their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Painted Ladies usually live around two weeks, though their entire life cycle lasts about one month.
  • Host Plants: They tend to favor thistles, but their caterpillars can also feed on mallows, nettles, and other herbaceous plants.

Whether you’re an avid butterfly enthusiast or merely have a passing interest in nature, the Painted Lady Butterfly is undoubtedly an enchanting European species worth investigating.

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

The Comma Butterfly, also known as Polygonia c-album, is an alluring species that can be found in various parts of Europe.

Comma Butterfly

Its unique characteristics set it apart from other butterflies, making it a fascinating subject for enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

  • Habitat: Comma Butterflies favor woodlands, gardens, and hedgerows as their natural habitats. They thrive in areas with a mix of sun and shade, plenty of nectar sources, and food for their young.
  • Appearance: This butterfly is easily recognizable by its jagged wing edges and striking orange and brown markings. When resting with closed wings, its resemblance to a dead leaf gives it excellent camouflage.
  • Size: Adult Comma Butterflies typically have a wingspan of 45-55mm, making them a medium-sized butterfly species.
  • Diet: As adults, Commas feed primarily on nectar from various flowers, while their caterpillars enjoy munching on nettles.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies can produce two generations per year, with mating occurring both in spring and late summer.
  • Lifespan: The impressive Comma Butterfly lives for around 12-14 days as an adult, while its entire lifecycle can take around 6 weeks to complete.
  • Host Plants: Comma caterpillars are commonly found on nettles, elm, and willow trees, as these plants provide them with their primary food source.

Small Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris)

The Small Skipper Butterfly is a lovely sight to behold – a bright, energetic species that can be found across Europe.

Small Skipper Butterfly

Let’s explore some fascinating facts about this delightful little butterfly.

  • Habitat: Small Skipper Butterflies inhabit grasslands, meadows, and road verges.
  • Appearance: They feature a vibrant orange color with brown wing edges, while the underside of the wings is a pale, earthy tone.
  • Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of 25-30mm, making them relatively small.
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from flowers such as thistles, knapweed, and other wildflowers.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs in tall grasses, preferring Yorkshire-fog grass (Holcus lanatus). Eggs are usually laid singly or in small groups.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for around three weeks in the summer months, from late June to August.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on grasses, specifically Yorkshire-fog grass and occasionally other species of grass.

Now that you know a bit more about the charming Small Skipper Butterfly, make sure to keep an eye out for this tiny, vibrant insect during your next summer walk through the meadows and grasslands of Europe.

Essex Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus lineola)

The Essex Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus lineola) is a small, quick-flying butterfly that can be easily mistaken for other species in the family.

Essex Skipper Butterfly

However, with a closer look, you’ll notice its unique characteristics.

Here’s a brief overview:

  • Habitat: Prefers grassy areas, meadows, and woodland edges in England, Europe, and North Africa.
  • Appearance: Bright orange wings with dark brown borders, and black tips on the antennae.
  • Size: Wingspan of 27-34mm, making it a small butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adult Essex Skippers mostly feed on the nectar of flowers, while their caterpillars prefer grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place in July, followed by laying eggs individually on grass blades.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a lifespan of around 2 weeks, while the entire life cycle takes around 14 months.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on various grasses, such as Yorkshire fog, crested dog’s tail, and timothy grass.

Now that you have some basic knowledge about the Essex Skipper, keep an eye out for this dainty butterfly on your next nature walk!

Large Skipper Butterfly (Ochlodes sylvanus)

The Large Skipper Butterfly (Ochlodes sylvanus) is a fascinating and distinctive butterfly species that can be found across Europe.

Large Skipper Butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at some of its unique characteristics:

  • Habitat: Large Skippers thrive in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, woodland clearings, and even gardens with plenty of wildflowers.
  • Appearance: These butterflies are characterized by their orange-brown wings, with black markings and a distinctively hooked shape to their antennae.
  • Size: They have a wingspan ranging from 30 to 34mm. As the name suggests, they are larger than the other skipper varieties found in Europe.
  • Diet: Adult Large Skippers mainly feed on nectar from various wildflowers, while the caterpillar stage feeds on grasses.
  • Reproduction: Female Large Skippers can lay up to 250 eggs on suitable grasses, which then hatch into caterpillars after about two weeks.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for around three weeks, and the species has a single brood each year.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for the caterpillars are grasses, particularly cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).

Next time you’re out in nature, keep an eye out for the captivating Large Skipper Butterfly and continue exploring the remarkable butterfly species that can be found across Europe.

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly (Pyrgus malvae)

The Grizzled Skipper is one of the delightful butterfly species that you may come across in Europe.

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly

This tiny but striking butterfly has some unique characteristics which make it stand out among its peers.

Let’s learn more about this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: Grizzled Skippers are found in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, woodland clearings, and open scrub.
  • Appearance: These butterflies have a distinctive checkerboard pattern on their wings, with alternating dark brown and white markings. The underside of their wings feature a mix of brown, white, and orange hues.
  • Size: Grizzled Skippers are relatively small, with a wingspan of about 25-32mm.
  • Diet: Adult Grizzled Skippers feed primarily on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars feed on herbaceous plants.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place in spring, with females laying their eggs on the host plants. The caterpillars emerge after about 2 weeks and feed before pupating.
  • Lifespan: The adult Grizzled Skipper has a relatively short lifespan of just 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Host plants for the Grizzled Skipper caterpillars include cinquefoil, wild strawberry, and other members of the Potentilla family.

Keep an eye out for these intriguing butterflies during your European adventures and cherish the rare moments you get to observe their captivating presence.

Dingy Skipper Butterfly (Erynnis tages)

The Dingy Skipper Butterfly (Erynnis tages) is a small, brown butterfly species that can be found throughout Europe.

Dingy Skipper Butterfly

They are not the most vibrant or vividly colored butterflies, but they have their own unique charm.

Here are some interesting facts about this little butterfly:

  • Habitat: Dingy Skippers prefer open grassland, heathlands, and woodland clearings. They can often be found in habitats with bare ground or sparse vegetation, where they can easily bask in the sun.
  • Appearance: The Dingy Skipper has a grey-brown coloration with a series of orange bands and white markings on the wings. It closely resembles a moth in appearance and behavior.
  • Size: These butterflies have a rather small wingspan, typically ranging from 22 to 27 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adult Dingy Skippers primarily feed on flowering plants like dandelions, buttercups, and other low-growing flowers, sipping nectar for sustenance.
  • Reproduction: Dingy Skippers lay their eggs on specific host plants, like the Bird’s-foot trefoil. The caterpillars then feed on these plants until they pupate.
  • Lifespan: Adult Dingy Skippers have a short lifespan of around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for Dingy Skipper caterpillars is the Bird’s-foot trefoil, but they will also use other related plants if necessary.


In this article, we’ve introduced you to some of the most beautiful and fascinating butterfly species found in Europe.

These insects not only bring color and joy to our lives but also play crucial roles in pollination and maintaining the biodiversity of our ecosystems.

We hope you enjoyed learning about these incredible creatures and invite you to share your thoughts or experiences with European butterflies in the comments below!

Butterflies   Updated: June 19, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *