Butterfly species seen in Somerset and Bristol

Of the 59 species of butterfly regularly found in the UK around 40 are recorded annually in the Somerset and Bristol area. These include the Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow, which are annual migrants.

Skippers

Five different skippers can be seen in our region.

The Small, Large and Essex Skippers are golden coloured and sometimes can be difficult to tell apart.

Grizzled and Dingy Skippers are darker coloured and are sometimes mistaken for moths.

Whites

Six white or yellow species occur in Somerset & Bristol. 

Five species are resident in the region, and the Clouded Yellow is a migrant that occurs annually.

Unfortunately, another species, the Wood White is now considered extinct in our region.

Browns

You may see up to eight different species from the brown group.

This group includes some of our most common summer butterflies, such as Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper.

Perhaps confusingly, the Marbled White is a member of the brown family.

Fritillaries

Four species of fritillary occur in our area.

They all have complex wing patterns, and some species have a localised distribution. 

The location, combined with views of the upper and underwings, may be required to confirm identification.

Blues

The blues include six species regularly seen in our area. 

The Polden Hills, Somerset is one of the few locations in the UK where Large Blue can be seen.

Some of the butterflies in this group are actually more brown than blue including the females in some species.

 

Hairstreaks

Four species of Hairstreak occur in our region.

Some of these are elusive and not often seen by chance, such as White-letter Hairstreak.

These species are characterised by a white line on the underwings, reduced to dots in the Green Hairstreak.

 

Coppers

Only a single species, the Small Copper, occurs in the UK.

This small butterfly is easily recognised by its bright orange-copper colour with black markings.

Although widespread, it is usually only encountered in small numbers and prefers warm and dry conditions.

Vanessids

Six butterfly species from this group occur in our area.

Some of these species hibernate as adults and may be seen flying on sunny days in winter.

With the exception of the White Admiral, these butterflies are common visitors to our gardens.

Photo taken in Norfolk

Other Species

Each year there are a few reports of other species in Somerset & Bristol.

Some of these could be rare migrants, but others may have orginated from butterflies reared in captivity.

If you see an unexpected butterfly species, please try to get a photo or video to assist identification.

Photo taken in Norfolk

Day-flying Moths

Sometimes large or colourful moths can be confused with butterflies.

Some of these moths are normally day flying. Others may be seen when disturbed from vegetation.

Please report your moth sightings to the County Moth Recorders.

See Somerset Moth Group for details.

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