30 Butterfly Species in Scotland

As you explore the beautiful landscapes of Scotland, you’ll likely come across a variety of enchanting butterfly species.

These colorful insects play a vital role in maintaining the balance of Scotland’s ecosystems.

In this article, we will introduce you to 30 different butterfly species that call Scotland their home, so you can admire and appreciate their diversity and beauty.

Large White (Pieris brassicae)

One of the most common butterflies in Scotland is the Large White, also known as the Cabbage White.

Large White butterfly

You might spot these butterflies fluttering around gardens, parks, and other green spaces. They’re highly adaptable and loved by many for their beautiful appearance.

Here are a few interesting facts about the Large White butterfly:

  • Habitat: Widespread in Scotland, including gardens, parks, and agricultural areas
  • Appearance: White wings with black tips and three black spots on each forewing
  • Size: Wingspan of 50-70mm
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar, while caterpillars feed on cruciferous plants
  • Reproduction: Females lay up to 100 eggs on the undersides of leaves, which hatch into caterpillars in about one week
  • Lifespan: Adults live for around three weeks while caterpillars take about a month to become butterflies
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars prefer edible plants in the Cabbage family (Brassicaceae), including cabbage, kale, and cauliflower

Now that you know more about the Large White butterfly, keep an eye out for them the next time you’re out and about in Scotland!

Who knows, you might just spot one fluttering by.

Small White (Pieris rapae)

The Small White, also known as the Small Cabbage White, is a widespread butterfly species in Scotland.

Small White butterfly

Often mistaken for its larger relative, the Large White, this delicate butterfly can be distinguished by some key features.

Let’s explore more about this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: Small Whites can be commonly found in gardens, agricultural fields, meadows, and various other habitats. They are quite adaptable, which contributes to their widespread presence.
  • Appearance: These butterflies showcase white wings with subtle black tips on their forewings, and distinct black spots near the outer edge. Females usually have two spots, while males bear only one.
  • Size: The wingspan of this species measures about 38-57 mm, making them slightly smaller than their close relative, the Large White.
  • Diet: Adult Small Whites feed primarily on nectar from flowers like thistles, dandelions, and bluebells.
  • Reproduction: Small Whites lay yellow, flask-shaped eggs on the underside of leaves of their host plants. These eggs later hatch into green caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a brief life, living up to 3 weeks. Caterpillars develop into butterflies within a month.
  • Host Plants: Small White caterpillars mainly feed on cruciferous plants like cabbage, broccoli, kale, and mustard. They can sometimes be a pest to gardeners and farmers due to their voracious appetite for these plants.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

The Green-veined White is a beautiful butterfly species found in Scotland.

Green-veined White butterfly

Frequenting a wide variety of habitats, this butterfly is not one to miss when you’re out exploring the Scottish countryside.

Let’s dive into some interesting facts about the Green-veined White:

  • Habitat: Found in various habitats, such as woodland clearings, meadows, hedgerows, and even parks and gardens.
  • Appearance: Primarily white with subtle greenish veins on the underside of their wings, giving them their name. Males have a single black spot on their forewing tips, while females have two.
  • Size: Small, with a wingspan of about 45 to 50 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while the caterpillars feed on plants from the Brassicaceae family.
  • Reproduction: Males court females with an aerial dance. The female then lays eggs on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live up to a month, depending on weather conditions.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars mainly feed on plants like garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), and watercress (Nasturtium officinale).

The Green-veined White is definitely a fascinating species to encounter and admire during your time in Scotland. Keep an eye out for them in various habitats, and enjoy their graceful presence.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

The Orange-tip butterfly is an eye-catching species found in Scotland, primarily in springtime.

Orange-tip Butterfly

Known for its vivid and unmistakable markings, this butterfly is a welcome sight for nature enthusiasts.

Let’s explore its characteristics in more detail:

  • Habitat: Orange-tips typically reside in damp meadows, woodland clearings, hedgerows, and riverbanks where their larval food plants are abundant.
  • Appearance: Males feature an unmistakable bright orange patch on the tips of their forewings, while females exhibit grayish-white wingtips with black edges. Both sexes have intricately patterned green and white underwings.
  • Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of approximately 45-55mm.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various spring flowers such as cuckooflower, garlic mustard, and violets.
  • Reproduction: Orange-tips mate in the spring and lay their eggs on the host plants. Caterpillars emerge, consuming the host plant’s seed pods before pupating on nearby vegetation.
  • Lifespan: The adult Orange-tip’s lifespan ranges between 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae primarily feed on plant species from the Brassicaceae family, mainly Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata).

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The Small Copper is a lively butterfly species found throughout Scotland.

Small Copper butterfly

This fascinating and captivating little creature adds a splash of color to the Scottish countryside, making it a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts.

Here is some more information about this charming butterfly:

  • Habitat: Small Coppers are found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, heathlands, moors, and even gardens.
  • Appearance: Small Coppers boast a distinct orange and brown coloration, with black spots and edges on their wings. They also have blue spots near their hind wings’ margins.
  • Size: These butterflies are relatively small, with a wingspan ranging from 25 to 35 millimeters.
  • Diet: Like many other butterflies, Small Coppers primarily feed on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Males establish territories to attract females. The female lays her eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Small Coppers typically have two or three broods per year. Adults live for around three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their favorite host plants include species such as Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), where their larvae feed on the tender leaves.

Whether you are an avid butterfly spotter or just appreciate the beauty of nature, the Small Copper offers an irresistible and enjoyable sight.

So next time you’re outdoors, keep an eye out for this delightful species!

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

The Common Blue butterfly is a delightful species that can be found in various habitats across Scotland.

Common Blue butterfly

With its enchanting beauty, this butterfly is quite a sight to behold.

Let’s dive into some fascinating facts about the Common Blue butterfly:

  • Habitat: You can typically find this species in meadows, grasslands, and coastal dunes. They also inhabit roadside verges and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: Males have a vibrant blue color on their wing uppersides, while females have mainly brown wings with blue spots near the body. Both genders have a beige underside with black spots bordered by orange crescents.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 28 mm to 36 mm, making them a relatively small butterfly species.
  • Diet: As a caterpillar, they feed on several types of plants. Adult butterflies, on the other hand, feed on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Adult butterflies mate in the spring, following which females lay their eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Common Blues have a short life of 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on plants like Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Marl Grass, and Restharrow.

Now that you know more about the Common Blue butterfly, keep an eye out for these lovely creatures next time you’re out in the Scottish countryside.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

The Holly Blue is a fascinating and beautiful butterfly species native to Scotland. As the name indicates, its wings boast a stunning shade of blue, making it easy to identify.

Holly Blue butterfly

Here are some key characteristics of the Holly Blue butterfly:

  • Habitat: Holly Blue butterflies prefer woodlands, hedgerows, and gardens, where they can find suitable plants to feed and breed.
  • Appearance: The upper side of the wings is a vibrant blue, with broad black borders in females and slender black borders in males. The underside displays a pale blue-grey color with small black spots.
  • Size: Holly Blue butterflies have a small wingspan, typically between 30 and 35 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar, favoring flowers such as holly and ivy.
  • Reproduction: Holly Blue butterflies have two generations per year, with the first generation flying from April to June, and the second appearing from July to September.
  • Lifespan: The adult Holly Blue butterfly lives for about three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of these butterflies feed on Holly (Ilex aquifolium) in the spring generation and Ivy (Hedera helix) in the summer generation.

The Holly Blue butterfly is a captivating species that adds a touch of beauty to the Scottish landscape. Keep an eye out for them on your next woodland or garden adventure.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral is a striking butterfly species that can be found throughout Scotland, adding a pop of color to various habitats.

red-admiral butterfly

Below are some of the key features of this eye-catching butterfly:

  • Habitat: Gardens, woodland edges, and hedgerows provide the perfect setting for the Red Admiral to thrive.
  • Appearance: This butterfly boasts a bold black and red pattern, with black wings featuring red bands and white spots along the margins.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, the Red Admiral exhibits a wingspan of approximately 64-78mm.
  • Diet: Their primary source of sustenance comes from nectar, particularly feeding on plants like buddleia and ice plants.
  • Reproduction: During the summer months, this species lays eggs individually on the leaves of nettles and other host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Red Admirals usually have a lifespan of around a month, living just long enough to reproduce and lay the foundation for the next generation.
  • Host Plants: Nettles, like the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), serve as the primary larval host plant providing nourishment to the growing caterpillars.

The Red Admiral is a beautiful and easily identifiable butterfly species that inhabits various environments across Scotland. Its brief but fascinating life cycle contributes to the rich tapestry of the country’s biodiversity.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady, also known as Vanessa cardui, is a fascinating butterfly species found in various parts of Scotland.

painted lady butterfly

This beautiful creature is renowned for its incredible migratory behaviors and striking appearance.

Allow me to share some interesting aspects of this delightful butterfly.

  • Habitat: Painted Ladies thrive in various habitats, from coastal dunes to open grasslands and even gardens, making them easily adaptable across Scotland.
  • Appearance: Their wings feature intricate patterns in shades of brown, orange, black, and white, with pointed forewings characterized by black tips containing five white spots.
  • Size: These butterflies are of medium size, with a wingspan ranging from 5 to 9 centimeters.
  • Diet: The Painted Lady primarily feeds on nectar from a variety of flower species such as thistles, knapweed, and buddleia.
  • Reproduction: Males attract females through courtship display flights. After mating, the female lays her eggs singly on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: As adults, Painted Ladies live for approximately two to four weeks.
  • Host Plants: Painted Lady caterpillars primarily feed on thistle species but can also consume other plants like mallow, hollyhock, and nettle.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

The Small Tortoiseshell is a colorful and widespread butterfly species found throughout Scotland.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

With its bright orange and black markings, this butterfly is easily identified and is commonly seen in gardens, parks, and the countryside.

Let’s dive into some fascinating facts about the Small Tortoiseshell:

  • Habitat: This butterfly can be found in various habitats, including gardens, meadows, woodland edges, and grasslands.
  • Appearance: Sporting a vibrant orange with black and yellow markings, the Small Tortoiseshell is a true beauty. They also have blue crescents on their wing edges.
  • Size: Adults usually have a wingspan of around 45-55 mm (1.77-2.16 inches).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from flowers, especially thistles, dandelions, and buddleia. Caterpillars feed on stinging nettles.
  • Reproduction: In late March to April and July, adults lay small clusters of pale green eggs on the underside of nettle leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for 3-4 weeks before they need to mate and lay eggs. However, adults hibernating in winter can live up to 9 months.
  • Host Plants: Stinging nettles serve as the primary host plant for the Small Tortoiseshell’s larvae, providing them with the ideal nursery to grow and develop.

Peacock (Aglais io)

Peacock butterflies are a stunning species found in Scotland, known for their vibrant colors and eye-like patterns on their wings.

Peacock Butterfly

These captivating creatures are an essential part of the Scottish ecosystem and add a dash of beauty to the landscape.

Let’s learn more about these fascinating butterflies:

  • Habitat: Peacock butterflies are found in various habitats, such as woodlands, gardens, and hedgerows.
  • Appearance: They have rich, dark-red wings with distinctive eye-like patterns, which help deter predators.
  • Size: Their wingspan measures approximately 63-69mm.
  • Diet: These butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various flowers like buddleia and dandelions.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their small, ribbed, green eggs in clusters on the underside of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Peacock butterflies have a remarkable lifespan compared to other species, living up to 11 months.
  • Host Plants: Their main host plants for their caterpillars are nettles, providing the perfect environment for them to grow and feast.

This mesmerizing butterfly species is a welcome sight in Scotland, enchanting people with its delightful colors and patterns while nurturing the environment around it.

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

The Comma butterfly is an intriguing species that you may find in Scotland. As you explore the countryside, you could come across this stunning butterfly.

Comma Butterfly

Let’s learn more about some of their characteristics:

  • Habitat: Commas prefer woodland edges, hedgerows, and gardens where they can easily access their favorite nectar sources.
  • Appearance: They have jagged wing edges and a unique, comma-shaped white spot on the underside of the wings, which gives them their name.
  • Size: Adult Commas have a wingspan of about 45-50 mm.
  • Diet: These butterflies feed on nectar from flowers like thistles and buddleia as well as overripe fruit.
  • Reproduction: Female Commas lay eggs singly on the upper leaves of host plants. The caterpillars that emerge possess a humpback appearance and velvety texture.
  • Lifespan: Adult Commas live for about 3 weeks, while the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes around 3 months.
  • Host Plants: The Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) is the primary host plant for Comma caterpillars, although they occasionally use other plants such as hops or elms.

Keep an eye out for these fascinating butterflies as you explore the diverse landscapes of Scotland.

Their unique appearance and versatility make them an exciting find among the country’s rich biodiversity.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

The Speckled Wood is a fascinating butterfly species that is commonly found in Scotland. This butterfly is unique for a variety of reasons, from its appearance to its habitat preferences.

Speckled Wood butterfly

In this section, we’ll explore some of the key features and behaviors of the Speckled Wood.

  • Habitat: This butterfly can be found in woodland areas, particularly those with dappled sunlight and shade. They also frequent gardens and hedgerows.
  • Appearance: The Speckled Wood has a brown background color with cream-yellow spots on its wings. The pattern resembles a woodland floor, giving it excellent camouflage capabilities.
  • Size: This species reaches a wingspan of 4-4.5 centimeters, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult Speckled Woods primarily feed on honeydew, although they may also consume nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: The Speckled Wood produces two or three generations per year. Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants, which then hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies have a relatively short lifespan of around one month.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on a variety of grass species, including the Yorkshire fog, Common Couch, and Cock’s-foot grass.

Wall (Lasiommata megera)

The Wall butterfly, known scientifically as Lasiommata megera, is a fascinating species found in various parts of Scotland.

Wall (Lasiommata megera)

This captivating butterfly is known for its unique characteristics and features.

Let’s dive into some specifics about the Wall butterfly:

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer open grassy habitats, such as meadows, coastal dunes, and rocky hillsides.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by their brown, orange, and cream colors, they have a distinctive set of eyespots on their wings, which help deter predators.
  • Size: They are relatively small, with a wingspan of around 40-50mm.
  • Diet: Adult Wall butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. As caterpillars, they feed on grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mating usually occurs in the spring and summer. Females lay eggs singly on host plants.
  • Lifespan: The entire lifecycle, from egg to adult, takes about six weeks. Adult butterflies live for around three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Wall butterflies primarily feed on different grass species, including Wavy Hair Grass, Common Couch Grass, and Yorkshire Fog.

Now that you know more about this incredible butterfly species, be sure to keep an eye out for them on your next visit to Scotland!

Grayling (Hipparchia semele)

The Grayling, scientifically known as Hipparchia semele, is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in various regions of Scotland.

Grayling butterfly

This remarkable creature offers a rich tapestry of seductive beauty and ingenious adaptations which makes it a treasure to observe and study.

  • Habitat: Graylings primarily occupy coastal dunes, heathlands, woodland clearings, and limestone grasslands.
  • Appearance: They have a unique mottled gray-brown pattern on their wings, which serves as excellent camouflage against rocks and tree trunks. When basking in the sun, they hold their wings at an angle, revealing a bright orange-brown underside with a small white and black eyespot.
  • Size: The wingspan of an adult Grayling can range from 54 to 62 millimeters.
  • Diet: They mostly feed on nectar from plants such as thistles, knapweed, and heather.
  • Reproduction: Female Graylings lay their eggs singly on grasses and low vegetation, and the caterpillars develop in early spring.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live up to 4 weeks, while the entire life cycle takes around 11 months to complete, passing through egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages.
  • Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on a variety of grasses, such as fescue, bent, and purple moor grass.

Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops)

The Scotch Argus is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in Scotland.

Scotch Argus Butterfly

This butterfly thrives in certain areas and exhibits unique characteristics, making it a popular species among butterfly enthusiasts.

Here is some information about the Scotch Argus:

  • Habitat: The Scotch Argus prefers damp grasslands, woodland clearings, and moorlands. It is usually found in the Scottish uplands and western coastal regions.
  • Appearance: This butterfly has dark brown, velvety wings with a row of small, white-ringed eye spots on the hindwings. The spots are more noticeable in the males than in the females.
  • Size: The Scotch Argus has a wingspan of around 40-45mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adult Scotch Argus butterflies feed on nectar from various flowering plants, while the caterpillars feed on grasses.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on their host plants, which the caterpillars will later feed on. The eggs are laid singly or in small clusters.
  • Lifespan: Scotch Argus butterflies have a short adult lifespan, usually living for just a few weeks in flight period.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for the Scotch Argus is the Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea), but they will also use other grass species in a pinch.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

The Meadow Brown, or Maniola jurtina, is a common butterfly you might come across when roaming the picturesque landscapes of Scotland.

Meadow Brown butterfly

This beautiful butterfly can be found fluttering gracefully across the regions.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the Meadow Brown’s interesting characteristics:

  • Habitat: Found in grassy areas such as meadows, fields, and woodland clearings, the Meadow Brown prefers low altitude and low-density vegetation.
  • Appearance: With a mixture of earthy tones on their wings, Meadow Brown butterflies exhibit brown coloration with an eye-like orange patch, and black and white sports on the forewing.
  • Size: This medium-sized butterfly has a wingspan ranging from 40mm to 50mm, making it one of the larger species in Scotland.
  • Diet: The Meadow Brown mainly feeds on nectar from a range of plant species, such as thistles and knapweed.
  • Reproduction: Adult butterflies mate in the summer, and females lay their eggs individually on various grass blades.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short lifespan of two to four weeks, mostly during the summer months.
  • Host Plants: Meadow Brown caterpillars feed on various grasses, including common bent, fescue, and wavy hair-grass.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

The Ringlet butterfly is a widespread species commonly found in Scotland.

Ringlet Butterfly

Its name originates from the eye-like rings found on the underside of its wings.

Let’s dive deeper into the world of the beautiful Ringlet butterfly:

  • Habitat: Prefers damp grasslands, meadows, woodland clearings, and hedgerows.
  • Appearance: Dark brown wings with a series of yellow-rimmed eye-spots on the underside, a subtle hint of olive green near the edges of the forewings is also visible.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges between 35-42mm.
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar, particularly bramble, while caterpillars eat grasses such as cocksfoot and meadow foxtail.
  • Reproduction: Males patrol areas with tall grasses in search of the females. After copulation, females lay eggs down in the grasses, which hatch in about two weeks.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a brief life, lasting only 3-4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: As caterpillars, their primary diet consists of grasses like cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) and meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis).

Next time you’re in a grassy or wooded area in Scotland, keep an eye out for the subtle and captivating Ringlet butterfly!

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Small Heath is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in various habitats across Scotland.

Small Heath Butterfly

In this section, we’ll dive into some interesting facts about the Small Heath butterfly, so let’s get started!

  • Habitat: Small Heath butterflies prefer open grasslands, moorlands, and woodland clearings. They often live in areas with short vegetation, making it easy for them to bask in the sunlight.
  • Appearance: These butterflies showcase a subtle beauty with their brownish-grey wings that have a delicate orange band on the forewings. When their wings are closed, you can see a small eye-like spot on each hindwing.
  • Size: Small Heath butterflies are relatively petite, with a wingspan of about 34-42 mm (1.3-1.6 inches).
  • Diet: Adults feed on a variety of nectar sources, particularly from the flowers of white clover, thistle, and ragwort.
  • Reproduction: Small Heaths have one or two generations each year, with adults seen flying between May and September. Females lay their eggs singly on host plants, which the emerging larvae feed upon.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for 2-7 weeks, depending on weather conditions and food availability.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on a range of grasses, including fescues, bent grasses, and meadow grasses.

So, whenever you visit open grasslands in Scotland, keep an eye out for these delightful Small Heath butterflies, and take a moment to appreciate their understated elegance.

Large Heath (Coenonympha tullia)

The Large Heath is a fascinating butterfly species that calls Scotland home.

Large Heath Butterfly

Known for its beautiful wings and interesting biology, let’s delve deeper into this butterfly’s world.

  • Habitat: This charming butterfly typically inhabits wet, peat-rich habitats including bogs, fens, and marshes. It thrives in damp conditions, making Scotland the perfect place for it to reside.
  • Appearance: Displaying an intricate pattern of orange and brown hues, the Large Heath’s wings are adorned with scattered black spots, giving it a stunning appearance.
  • Size: With a wingspan measuring around 4 to 5 cm, this medium-sized butterfly holds its stance elegantly in the Scottish skies.
  • Diet: Large Heaths mainly feed on nectar from various flowers, such as cotton-grass, cross-leaved heath, and devil’s-bit scabious.
  • Reproduction: During the breeding season, females lay their eggs on the leaf tips of host plants, ensuring an adequate food supply for the caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: As an adult butterfly, the Large Heath typically lives for about two to three weeks, long enough to reproduce and keep the population thriving.
  • Host Plants: The plant of choice for Large Heath caterpillars is usually Hare’s-tail Cottongrass, which provides nourishment for the growing larvae.

Now that we’ve explored the Large Heath, keep reading to learn more about other fascinating butterfly species waiting to be discovered in Scotland.

Mountain Ringlet (Erebia epiphron)

The Mountain Ringlet is an exciting and unique butterfly species found in Scotland.

Mountain Ringlet butterfly

This species is a fascinating addition to the country’s rich biodiversity and offers an insight into the beautiful world of butterflies.

Here are some interesting facts about the Mountain Ringlet:

  • Habitat: Mountain Ringlets are usually found in high-altitude locations, such as the Scottish Highlands and upland areas throughout Britain. They typically inhabit montane grasslands, rocky scree slopes, and damp moorland habitats.
  • Appearance: Mountain Ringlets have brown wings with characteristic orange patches and black eyespots. These striking features make them easily distinguishable from other butterfly species.
  • Size: Adults are medium-sized butterflies with a wingspan of about 35-40 mm.
  • Diet: Nectar is the primary source of nutrition for adult Mountain Ringlets, but the caterpillars feed on grasses like fescues and bents.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on or near host plants. Caterpillars go through a process of metamorphosis to become adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Adult Mountain Ringlets typically have a short lifespan of 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Its preferred host plants are mat-grasses (Nardus stricta), Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) and other fine-leaved grasses.

Make sure you keep an eye out for these fascinating butterflies when exploring Scotland’s mountains and high-altitude landscapes; they will truly leave you in awe!

Dark Green Fritillary (Speyeria aglaja)

One of the fascinating butterfly species you can find in Scotland is the Dark Green Fritillary (Speyeria aglaja).

Dark Green Fritillary butterfly

This medium-sized butterfly is known for its robust build and impressive flight.

Here’s what you need to know about the Dark Green Fritillary:

  • Habitat: They prefer open habitats such as grasslands, heathlands, coastal dunes, and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: The upperside of their wings feature a rich orange-brown color adorned with dark markings, while the underside showcases a beautiful green hue with silver spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 55 to 66 millimeters, it is considered a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults feed mainly on nectar from flowers, such as thistles and knapweed, while caterpillars primarily munch on violets.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place in early summer, and the eggs are laid on or near the host plants. The caterpillars hatch and overwinter before resuming their development in spring.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for 3 to 4 weeks after emerging from the chrysalis.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on common dog violets, marsh violets, or heath dog violets depending on the habitat.

So, if you happen to visit any of these habitats, keep an eye out for these stunning creatures and marvel at their beauty.

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)

The Silver-washed Fritillary is a striking butterfly species that you might come across in Scotland.

Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly

With its captivating appearance and interesting life history, it certainly holds a special place amongst the 30 butterfly species found in Scotland.

Let’s delve into the details:

  • Habitat: You can find them primarily in broadleaved woodlands, particularly where their host plants grow and sunny glades are present.
  • Appearance: This species boasts orange wings with black markings, while its distinctive feature is a series of silver streaks on the underside of its hindwings.
  • Size: It has a wingspan around 54-70mm, making it one of the largest species of Fritillary butterflies.
  • Diet: The adults mostly feed on nectar from flowers, such as brambles, thistles, and knapweeds.
  • Reproduction: The female lays eggs on the trunk or branches of the host plants. The caterpillars hatch and feed on the plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for about 3 weeks during their flight period from June to August.
  • Host Plants: The main host plant for the Silver-washed Fritillary is Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana).

Keep an eye out for this fascinating species while exploring the woodlands of Scotland.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is an enchanting species to witness in Scotland.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Butterfly

Widely considered an adorable and visually striking butterfly, let’s go over some key aspects:

  • Habitat: You can often find them in wet, marshy habitats such as damp grasslands, heathlands, and moorlands.
  • Appearance: With a beautiful array of orange and black markings on the wings, spotted with pearl-like markings along the border, these butterflies truly catch the eye.
  • Size: They have a wingspan of approximately 34-44mm, making them a relatively small yet noticeable species.
  • Diet: Feeding primarily on nectar from various flowers, they are fond of marsh thistles, bugle, and common dog-violet.
  • Reproduction: During May and June, they lay their eggs on the leaves of suitable host plants, giving birth to the next generation of these vibrant butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about three weeks, from late spring to early summer, fluttering about and gracing the Scottish landscape.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feast on common dog-violets (Viola riviniana) and other violet species, which are vital for their growth and development.

With their mesmerizing appearance and delicate nature, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a species that should not be missed in the diverse butterfly population of Scotland.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne)

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary is an enchanting butterfly species that you may find in Scotland. This attractive creature is named for the distinctive pearl-like markings on its wings.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly

Here are some fascinating facts about the Pearl-bordered Fritillary:

  • Habitat: It prefers woodland clearings, grazing marshes, and unimproved grasslands.
  • Appearance: It boasts bright orange wings, covered in black markings, and bordered with a series of silver-white pearls.
  • Size: Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are relatively small, with a wingspan of about 38-46 mm.
  • Diet: Adults are fond of nectar, while the caterpillar feeds on various violets.
  • Reproduction: Adult butterflies mate soon after emerging, and females lay eggs close to violet plants for the caterpillars’ food source.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly usually lives about two weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary caterpillar are Common Dog-violet, Marsh Violet, and Heath Dog-violet.

Next time you’re in the beautiful landscapes of Scotland, keep an eye out for the unique Pearl-bordered Fritillary, as spotting one of these can truly be a memorable experience.

Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

The Marsh Fritillary is a fascinating and beautiful butterfly that can be found in Scotland.

Marsh Fritillary butterfly

With its vibrant orange and brown colors, it is a sight to behold. However, this species is in decline and listed as a priority for conservation in the UK.

To better acquaint you with this captivating creature, let’s delve into some interesting facts about the Marsh Fritillary:

  • Habitat: Marsh Fritillary prefers damp, semi-natural grasslands, peat bogs, and marshlands.
  • Appearance: This butterfly boasts a striking pattern of orange and brown hues with a series of white markings on the upper side of its wings.
  • Size: The wingspan of a Marsh Fritillary typically ranges from 35 to 44 mm.
  • Diet: Adult Marsh Fritillaries feed on nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars feast on their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Males seek females during the mating season in late May and early June. Females then lay their eggs in clusters on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The adult stage of this species may last just a few weeks, while the entire life cycle spans about one year.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of the Marsh Fritillary primarily feed on Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis).

Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)

The Chequered Skipper, a striking butterfly native to Scotland, is one species you can’t miss while exploring the Scottish countryside.

Chequered Skipper butterfly

Here’s some interesting information about this fascinating butterfly:

  • Habitat: Prefers damp grassy meadows, woodland clearings, and riverbanks, commonly found in the western Highlands of Scotland.
  • Appearance: The Chequered Skipper features a distinctive pattern of yellow-orange and brown checkered markings on its wings, with a white fringe along the edges.
  • Size: Small in size, with a wingspan ranging between 24-30 millimeters.
  • Diet: Feeds primarily on nectar from flowers like bugle, bird’s foot trefoil, and bluebell.
  • Reproduction: Mates in May and June, female laying eggs singly on the undersides of Purple Moor-grass or Blue-grass.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Purple Moor-grass and Blue-grass serve as host plants for Chequered Skipper larvae, providing essential food and shelter.

Keep an eye out for the Chequered Skipper during your next visit to the Scottish Highlands, and appreciate the unique beauty of this extraordinary butterfly species!

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)

The Large Skipper is a fascinating butterfly species found across Scotland, and can be easily distinguished by its orange and brown wing pattern.

Large Skipper Butterfly

Let’s delve deeper into the characteristics and attributes of this charming butterfly:

  • Habitat: Large Skippers are usually found in grassland habitats such as meadows, road verges, and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: Featuring orange and brown wings with a hooked edge, this butterfly also has distinctive black spots and markings on its wings. Males flaunt a thick black line on their forewings, known as the “sex brand.”
  • Size: They possess a medium build, sporting a wingspan of around 30-38mm.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from flowers such as bramble, thistle, and bird’s-foot trefoil.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in tall grasses, where the caterpillars will emerge, camouflage, and munch away on the leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult Large Skippers typically live for two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars mainly feed on grasses like cock’s-foot, false brome, and creeping soft grass.

Large Skippers are fascinating creatures that enrich Scotland’s biodiversity, adding a touch of beauty to the landscapes they inhabit.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)

The Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) is a fascinating butterfly species native to Scotland. Often found in grassy habitats, this species is known for its small size and distinct appearance.

Small Skipper Butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key characteristics of the Small Skipper:

  • Habitat: Small Skipper butterflies prefer grassy areas such as meadows, roadside verges, and woodland clearings, where their host plants are found.
  • Appearance: They are characterized by a vibrant orange-colored upper wing surface with a brown outer edge, while their undersides are light brown with a distinctive white stripe.
  • Size: Adult wingspan usually ranges from 2.5 to 3.0 cm, making it one of the smallest butterfly species in Scotland.
  • Diet: The adults primarily feed on nectar from various flowers such as yarrow, knapweed, and thistle.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of specific grass species, where the caterpillars will feed and develop.
  • Lifespan: Adult Small Skippers have a relatively short lifespan of approximately 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Small Skipper caterpillar are grasses such as Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus) and creeping soft grass (Holcus mollis).

The Small Skipper is a stunning yet often overlooked butterfly species that plays a vital role in maintaining biodiversity in Scotland’s grassland ecosystems.

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

The Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) is a small and well-camouflaged butterfly that is native to Scotland.

Dingy Skipper Butterfly

This butterfly is often found in open grassy areas, such as woodland clearings and meadows.

It has a unique appearance and is quite different from other skippers found in the region.

  • Habitat: The Dingy Skipper prefers open grasslands, dry heathlands, and even disused quarries. It is commonly found in areas with limestone or chalk soils.
  • Appearance: The Dingy Skipper has a distinct brown and gray mottled appearance. This dull coloring allows it to blend into its surroundings, making it difficult to spot.
  • Size: This tiny butterfly has a wingspan of around 27-34 millimeters, which is smaller than many other butterfly species found in Scotland.
  • Diet: The adult Dingy Skipper feeds on the nectar of various flowers such as common bird’s-foot trefoil, dandelions, and bluebells.
  • Reproduction: Dingy Skippers usually mate in May and lay eggs on or near the host plant. The larvae hatch after about 10 days and feed on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: The adult life span for the Dingy Skipper is typically between 2-3 weeks during its flight period, which is from May to late June.
  • Host Plants: For the larvae, the main host plants are the common bird’s-foot trefoil and the kidney vetch. The adults prefer nectar-rich flowers.


In conclusion, Scotland is home to an astonishing array of beautiful butterflies, each with its unique characteristics and habitats.

As you venture out into the Scottish countryside, keep an eye out for these 30 stunning species.

Feel free to share your encounters with these winged creatures in the comments below–we’d love to hear about your experiences!

Butterflies   Updated: June 20, 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.

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