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 Information kindly supplied by Rachel Palmer and Mike Paskin.

This information is taken from Rhayader by Nature Fact Sheet No.5 – Butterflies written by Rachel Palmer. The fact sheet aims to give guidance on the study of butterflies in our area, the full factsheet is available on request from Richard Knight. Details on species that can be found in our area were provided by Mike Paskin.

How about making this the year you learn to identify all the common species of butterfly you see in local lanes and gardens. Its fairly easy to do because of the 59 resident species of butterfly in Great Britain, less than 30 are found in north and mid-Wales, and fewer still are seen regularly in Rhayader and district. Within a few months you could confidently identify most of the butterflies you see, with the help of a good book.

Make sure the book contains only British species and is up to date. Numbers and distribution of butterflies has been affected by climate change and loss of habitat – so an up to date book is vital.

Recommended titles 

 Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. by the superb butterfly illustrator, Richard Lewington.

The State of butterflies in Britain and Ireland by Richard Fox et al – contains more detailed distribution maps of each species and indicates recent changes.

Wear greens, browns or greys for butterfly watching rather than brightly coloured clothing. Binoculars will help spotting treetop species like the Purple Hairstreak, which is often missed as it rarely descends to ground level.

There’s nothing like visiting a reserve or sharing photos with other butterfly enthusiasts to improve your identification skills. Rhayader by nature Invertebrate group often visits good butterfly habitat and has butterfly events annually. You may also consider joining Butterfly Conservation(01929 400209) which has an excellent membership magazine and range of identification leaflets. Butterfly Conservation welcomes beginners to its friendly regional groups and does lots of practical projects in Wales.

Good butterfly websites – www.butterfly-conservation.org



Well established resident butterflies in Rhayader area.

Dingy Skipper    Mid May – Late June. Trefoil sp & Horseshoe Vetch. Wide range. Recorded locally but not since 1999

Small Skipper    Flies Mid June-August. Feeds on various tall grasses esp Yorkshire Fog & Creeping soft grass. Seen in rough grass – esp verges and woodland rides

Large Skipper    Early June – August. Coarse grasses esp Cocksfoot. Unimproved sheltered grass E.g verges & rides

Large white        Late April – Late June. July – Sept. Sept – Oct. Crucifers, legumes,brassica (wide range). Most open habitats.

Small white        April onwards. Wide range esp. brassica. Most open habitats.

Green veined white    Late April – Late Sept  2 or 3 generations. Cuckooflower, Garlic Mustard. Damp meadows.

Orange tip          May-June. Cuckooflower, Garlic Mustard, Garden Honesty (crucifers). Damp meadows and woodland margins.

Green Hairstreak   Mid April – mid June. Rockrose, Holly, Trefoil,  Bilberry, Gorse. Heaths, scrub, moors and rides.

Small Copper     2 or 3 generations in May, July-Aug and Oct. Common & Sheeps  Sorrel. Open habitat


Common blue   2 generations. Late July – Sept. Birds foot trefoil. Rough grassland

Red Admiral       All year but mainly April-Sep. Nettles. Migrant

Red Admiral

Painted Lady         All year but mainly late May to Sep. Thistles & Nettles. Migrant


Small Tortoiseshell   All year, 2 generations.  Mainly March to Sept . Nettle. Nomadic


Peacock    March-Sept & Mid July. Nettles, Hop. Very variable in habitat


Comma     1 or 2 generations. Seen all year esp June-Sept. Nettles, Hop, Sallow, Elm. Wood margins and hedges

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary  Late May – July & Aug-Sep. Violets. Open woods, marshes and moors

Dark Green Fritillary      Late June-Aug. Violets. Calcerous downs, woods.

Silver Washed Fritillary  Early July-Aug.  Violets. Open woods

Wall      2 generations May-June & Aug-Sept. Corse grasses – esp Cocksfoot. Grassland, verges etc.

Meadow Brown      Mid June – early Oct.  Grasses. Grassland.

Ringlet      Late June-mid Aug.  Grasses. Woodland edge and hedges

Small Heath       May onwards probably 1 generation in this area. Fine-leaved grasses esp. Fescues  and Meadow Grass. Short grassland / moors.

Present in small numbers or nearby.

Brimstone           All year, new generation in July. Buckthorn & Alder Buckthorn. Damp heaths, wanders widely.  Would colonise Buckthorn if planted.    

Purple Hairstreak   July- Mid-Sept. Oak. Any oakwoods. Occurs in Elan Valley, probably more widespread.

White Letter Hairstreak                 July-Aug. Elm. Woodland / Parkland with Elm. If significant numbers of Elm were planted it would probably re-colonise.

Holly Blue           Mid April – early June & Mid-July to Sept . Holly, Ivy, Dogwood and Gorse. Woods, Parks & Gardens.  Local in Wales, numbers vary. Recorded in south Radnorshire during last 3 years. One at Llanwrthwl 2008.

Pearl Bordered Fritillary   Early May to June and Aug to Sep. Common Dog Violet. Open Woods. Isolated colonies in Wales – may re-colonise opened up woodland.

Marsh Fritillary Late May to mid-June.  Devils-bit scabious. Damp meadows, moorland and downs. Very local. Local & decreasing in England / Wales

Speckled Wood      2 or 3 generations early April to Oct. Grasses. Woods and hedges.  Present in South Radnorshire. One at Cwm, Llanwrthwl 2008.

Grayling           Early July- Mid Sept. Grasses. Heaths with sparse vegetation, rides & quarries. Present in Elan valley.

Gatekeeper       Late July to early Sept. Grasses. Hedges / Scrubby grass.


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