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butterfly Large Tortoiseshell Butterflies

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Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Scientific name:  Nymphalis polychloros

Size:  Wingspan up to 60mm

Distribution:  Extinct in the UK but still fairly common in Europe

Months seen:  March to September

Habitat:  Woodlands and woodland edges

Food:  Nectar, tree sap and honeydew.  The caterpillars feed on vaious trees including elm, willow, polar, birch and cherry

Special features:  The Large Tortoiseshell butterfly became extinct in the UK in the 1950's, but there are still occasional sightings of this butterfly.  Possibly they arrive from parts of Europe where they are still fairly common, or they could just be captive-bred releases.

Although similar in appearance to the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly they are, as the name suggests, larger, and the colouring is more subdued.  They have an extra black spot near the outer edge of the forewing and they lack the white spot on the outer corner of the fore wing.  Also the undersides of the wings are much darker.

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