Small Tortoiseshell


This is the most widely distributed species in Cumbria, although over the last decade or so many will have noticed that there are far fewer Small Tortoiseshells around than there used to be. It is a species which overwinters as an adult butterfly and will emerge on nice bright sunny days in early Spring. Numbers in the UK are boosted in late Summer by migrants from Europe and that is usually the reason for the increased numbers on our Buddleias at that time.

Where to look

Any urban or rural habitat. They do not fly in colonies as most butterflies do but during late summer you will almost certainly see one if you have a Buddleia in the garden. If you have old outhouses with no heating and timber beams, have a look for some Small Tortoiseshells hibernating in winter.

Record distribution and images.

When to look

Spring emergence should be about late March or early April when mating takes place and eggs are laid on nettles. There is then a lull in the flight season until the new emergence occurs in mid-June and adults can be seen flying right up to the first frosts.

Recorded flight times. Cumulative records. Annual frequency.