A butterfly settles on vegetation

The New Forest boasts an impressive array of uncommon and special butterfly species, although it may lack the range and diversity of butterfly species found in some other areas.

Being so colourful, butterflies are the most noticeable of insects. A few species will only live on heathlands and the New Forest holds all of the heathland species that occur in southern UK.

Butterflies lay eggs that hatch into caterpillars. The food that the caterpillars eat varies from species to species, with many eating grasses, some eating the leaves of various plants and some of the blue species eating ant pupae and eggs in ants’ nests.

The range of habitats is important for the butterflies of the New Forest and there are some rare woodland and heathland species that depend upon the habitat management being just right for them.

Here we look at the rare species that have a particular stronghold in the New Forest and some of the common species that you are most likely to see.

  1. Butterflies (you are here)
  2. Brimstone
  3. Brown butterflies: meadow brown, gatekeeper & ringlet
  4. Grayling
  5. Orange tip
  6. Pearl-bordered & small pearl-bordered fritillary
  7. Silver-studded blue
  8. Silver-washed fritillary
  9. Speckled wood
  10. White admiral


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