Free Pictures of Butterflies
Names of Butterflies with Pictures for the enthusiast.
I have created this site to provide pictures of butterflies for the average enthusiast.
I love hunting butterflies and I will add any and all species that I find and photograph.
That is, if I get close enough!
Adonis Blue (Lysandra Bellargus)
Almost an exotic looking butterfly, the Adonis Blue is found mostly on the south coast of England in particular along the chalk downs and the Isle of Wight. Only the male shows off the vivid blue wings while the female is a dull brown colour verging on black with a few orange spots on the rim. I saw my specimens near Swanage Dorset. There a two batches, May - June and August - September.
A Flash of Gold
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Widespread butterfly with distinctive orange spots on the male make it unmistakeable. Female is similar but without the orange and can be confused with a small white unless the green underside is seen. The butterfly is quite a fast flyer so you need to be near flowers that it feeds on to have a hope of a photograph. Common in the spring in gardens and hedgerows.
A decidedly Scottish Butterfly
Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops)
We found our specimens in the typical highland meadow locality that the butterfly is so fond of. They were in abundance and I spent a whole afternoon with them just dancing around me as I sat in the long grass. Only found in Cumbria in England the Scotch Argus is quite widespread n the highlands of Scotland. It is also found in the upland areas of Europe. Despite its name, the Scotch Argus is unrelated to other arguses and is actually a member of the nymphalidae family of browns, commas and fritillaries.
Marbled White Butterflies - Melanargia galathea
A flash of black and white
I have sought after this butterfly for many years and suddenly there I was on a clifftop heath overlooking the English Channel and there were lots of them. What a sight.Despite its name, the marbled white is not a member of the white family, it is actually a Satyridae related to the browns. It is known for its evenly matched black and white pattern and brownish underwing. It usually rests with wings open and is often found in groups, giving some lovely photographic opportunities
Small Blue butterflies - Cupido minimus
The pretty little cousin
The smallest member of the UK blue family of butterflies the aptly named small blue is a lovely even brown blue colour and happily settles on blackberry bushes whilst you take photos. The female is almost all brown but the male shows blue at the base of its wings and on the body. The small blue loves limestone or chalk country and is very common where this scenery is seen.
Large White (Cabbage White) butterflies - Pieris Brassicae
Beautiful Butterfly or garden pest
The Large White is not the most popular butterfly owing to its liking for brassicas for laying its eggs. That does not mean it is not a beautiful butterfly when seen flitting from flower to flower as this one was at a garden centre near Kidderminster.
Butterfly Books - Getting started with butterfly spotting
If this article has peaked your interest beyond, now is the time to get out there and spot some species for yourself. Most UK butterflies are sufficiently distinct as to be instantly recognisable and with a good book you will have a lot of fun with these most beautiful of natures artwork.
Ringlet Butterflies - Aphantopus hyperantus
This rather bedraggled specimen at first sight isn't the most welcoming butterfly but consider he lived near a stream and had just survived a few weeks of torrential summer rain in 2012. The ring eyes can clearly be seen on this aptly named butterfly whose dusky grey appearance has a charm of its own as I spent half an hour chasing him up and down the embankment. The ringlet is fairly common adapting to meadows, banks, hedgerows and woodland, nonetheless it is a great addition to my collection.
Large Skipper Butterflies - Ochlodes Sylvanus
Not a true butterfly .... I think not!
Skippers make up the distinct butterfly family of Hesperiidae that include this wonderful creature that I saw flitting between flowers on seashore grassland dancing about to my great delight. I was mesmerized. Skippers without doubt have moth like qualities. Stout bodies, wings rest at an angle but there is so much of this creature that screams butterfly. The antennae have the characteristic bulge at the tip albeit sickle shaped but for anyone who has seen one of these characters it is the flight that is so much a butterfly. The Essex Skipper is similar but its antennae tip is black whereas the Large Skipper's is orange.
Small Copper Butterflies - Lycaena phlaeas
Small maybe, but such a bright butterfly
Widespread butterfly that usually is seen in ones and twos. The male can be territorial and quite aggressive to passing insects as it guards its plot. The copper colour shines in the sun and is a glorious site.
Speckled Wood Butterflies - Pararge aegeria
Speckled butterfly for sure, not always in woods though
While the butterfly is frequently seen guarding sunny spots in woodlands, its actual range extends to gardens and hedgerows. Very territorial the butterfly will spiral into the sky at the approach of intruders.
Swallowtail Butterflies - Papilio machaon
Exotic resident of the fen country
Arguably the most beautiful butterfly in the UK, the swallowtail is now restricted to a few locations in the fen country of east anglia. It is the only member of the Papilionidae family that is resident in the UK. Severely threatened after the second world war the butterfly's habitat is now protected and numbers are improving again.
Painted Lady Butterflies - Cynthia cardui
The lady of summer
I know many butterflies are migratory but this butterfly does it in style. Wintering in North Africa the butterfly arrives in the UK in August sometimes in fantastic numbers as in 2009. Painted Lady's are widespread and have been recorded in the Orkney's, Shetlands and even Iceland. It is also found in large parts of Asia and the Americas.
Meadow Brown Butterflies - Maniola jurtina
Common member of Brown Family that never fails to delight
Widespread and common in most of the British Isles the Meadow Brown is nonetheless a beautiful butterfly with its orange markings within the brown wings, the black eyespots and white 'pupils'. The butterfly is particularly successful as it has adapted to flight even in inclement weather, while many butterflies wait out the rain, the Meadow Brown continues on its way. Its main enemy is agricultural intensification. The Meadow Brown loves grasses and is common on grassland, heathland, parks and fields.
Gatekeeper Butterflies - Pyronia tithonus
Lord of the hedgerow and the best scent marks
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) also known as the hedge brown. Butterfly is widespread across England and Wales but less common further north. Male is distinctive with scent marks on the wings. I don't know what it is but I love the browns. Cheeky reliable little guys they are the sparrow of the butterfly kingdom.
Green Veined White Butterflies - Pieris napi
Country cousin of the small and cabbage white
Monarch Butterflies - Danaus plexippus
Known as the Milkweed in Great Britain and the Wanderer in Australasia.
Monarchs are very well known in North America for their long migrations from Mexico to Canada taking several generations to complete the round trip. The butterfly is one of the largest and most widespread and was probably named after King William III of England. Monarchs are foul tasting as a result of ingesting poisons from the milkweed plant and this provides them with some defense against predators.
Red Admiral Butterflies - Vanessa Atalanta
Widespread member of the Nymphalidae Family
Migratory butterfly that arrives from europe every year. They can hibernate over winter and emerge looking rather shabby in the following spring but are often killed off by the cold. They love to eat rotten fruit but also are frquently seen on many native flowers. This is one of the few British Butterflies I have also found high on the hillside flying across farmers fields with not a flower in sight. Remarkable long distance butterflies and beautiful to behold
Comma Butterflies - Polygonia c-album
My personal favourite for overall impact the comma is a wonderful butterfly
Undoubtedly my favourite British butterfly. I have always enjoyed watching this raggedy shaped butterfly as it feeds on flower heads. It gets its name from the small white 'comma' shape on its undersides. The butterfly likes gardens and hedgerows and hibernates in Britain overwinter. The ragged wing shape is supposed to resemble a dead leaf and thus is a help with camouflage.
Peacock Butterflies - Inachis io
Very common European butterfly and the only member of the Inachis genus
One of the most spectacular British Butterfles seen in gardens and hedgerows and very fond of Buddleia bushes. The name comes from the large bluish eye spots on fore and hind wings. The Peacock is a strong migrant flyer and has been found as far north as Iceland.
Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies - Aglais urticae
Normally an abundant butterfly, the small tortoiseshell has suffered severe reductions in recent years possibly due to climate change and many wet springs and summers. The butterfly hibernates over winter and emerges early in the year on sunny days. Brightly coloured on top the underwings are remarkably dull and serve as good camouflage when at rest or hibernating. Small Tortoiseshells are very fond of nettles and I recommend that everyone has a wild part to their garden and allow some nettles to grow.
Common Blue Butterflies - Polyommatus icarus
Where blue becomes gold, the jewel on the heathland
This beautiful butterfly is seen in open grassland and meadow locations. It is probably the commonest of all butterflies and in some locations can be abundant. Only 17 mm in overall width the butterflies are a delight to watch as they dance in the sun. There are many very similar species of blue but this is the only one with a small black spot in the middle of the fore wing underside.
Clouded Yellow (Colias Croccus)
Despite this butterfly being regarded as widespread over much of England and Wales, I have found it to be quite elusive. The one I saw was on a hillside on the Welsh border. It is a substantial butterfly and a fast flyer. The flash of yellow and black is unmistakable but otherwise does resemble is more common white cousins. The male is darker almost orange.
Small Skipper (Thymelicus Sylvestris)
I saw my first small skipper this year (2019). I have seen numerous large skippers over the past years and to be honest, I was never sure which one I was actually seeing. Compared to a red admiral, both species are small but once you see a small skipper there is no further confusion. They are minute, not much bigger than a bluebottle fly. By default I knew all previous sightings had been large skippers. I was climbing the coastal paths in Pembroke and in a wet gully I finally saw one. The image above was as close as I could get but it is at least a record.
Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra Coridon)
This butterfly was high on my list to see. But The south downs are a long way from my home. However there is a small enclave on a hill near Cheltenham and that is where I saw them on a bright sunny chalk hillside. In many ways similar to other blues except for the striking black lines and an overall paler blue colour.
Dark Green Fritillary
Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)
Finding this butterfly was just a stroke of luck. I was hunting chalkhill blues on a sunny hillside and it just landed feet from where I was standing. This is quite a large butterfly and a very fast flyer. There is much variation in the patterns on the wings.
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
This is another butterfly where its comparative small size tells you that it is not a large heath. It is very common throughout the UK.
Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus Acteon)
This unassuming little dusky coloured skipper has an extremely limited range on the south coast of England.from Dorset to Cornwall. It also only breeds once a year and favours one plant for food, the Rest Harrow. But in the location we visited they appeared to be abundant and easy to find.
Silver Studded Blue
Silver Studded Blue (Plebejus Argus)
It took quite some time to find this butterfly. We were told to look on the Great Orme but the Great Orme is a big place. Coming down a long path through thickets there were suddenly hundreds of them. My first thought was that they were smaller thsn I expected and exquisitly marked. Well worth the search.
Butterflies and the environment
Do you think butterflies are important indicators of climate change
© 2012 Christine and Peter Broster