Nature on our doorsteps: Living up to your name
Only the male Orange-tip butterfly has the distinctive orange colouring

Nature on our doorsteps: Living up to your name

The Speckled Wood butterfly has dark brown wings which are speckled with lovely cream-coloured blotches, some of which also have darker ‘eye spots’.

It is also one of the few butterflies that prefers not to linger too long in bright sunshine.

Instead, it likes softer, more dappled light, and so it is often seen along shady hedgerows or at the edges of woodlands where sunlight filters through the leaves. It will rest for a short while on a warm sunny leaf before flitting off again.

The male is a territorial butterfly, and he carefully minds his spot. He will quickly challenge other males if they encroach into his space and sometimes, two or three butterflies can be seen spiralling briskly around one another as they fight for territory.

Most butterflies sip nectar, but the Speckled Wood only occasionally visits flowers.

Speckled Wood butterflies are aptly named

It prefers to feed on aphid honeydew, which is the rich sugary waste that aphids produce when they feed on plant sap.

It is also easy to see how the Orange-tip Butterfly got its name, as the males have bright orange tips to their front wings.

The females of this species, however, have black tips instead of orange.

Both the Speckled Wood and the Orange-tip butterflies are very visible in our parks and along riversides at the moment.

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