Small Tortoiseshell
  Aglais urticae

Photograph by Bill Slater


Reddish orange wings with black markings and blue lunules on outer margins.


Tends to be single brooded in Scotland, hibernating as an adult. May be seen as early as March if the weather is warm and sunny, flying until June and producing offspring which emerge in Mid July. Numbers may be supplemented by migrants in August and September.

Ova are laid in clusters on nettle. In their early stages, larvae cluster in groups, becoming solitary in the final moult or instar. Pupae may be found from June to August hanging from vegetation up to a metre from the ground.


May be seen from March to October, with greatest numbers in August.


Although regarded as a commons species, in recent years it has has been outnumbered by Peacock butterflies in some areas. A widely distributed species, occurring in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland as well as on the mainland. It is not thought to be a breeding species in Shetland.