Brilliant butterflies

Brilliant butterflies!

Male Common Blue ©Zsuzsanna Bird

Why do butterflies visit gardens?

A variety of different butterflies visit our parks and gardens looking for food and a home. Each garden will attract a different set of butterflies depending on the plants, trees and shrubs there are.

Which butterflies am I likely to see in my garden?

The following butterflies are some of the common species spotted in gardens. An overcast day is a particularly good time to see them up close because they won't be as active and stay still for longer!

Peacock butterfly

Peacock ©Rachel Scopes


Description: Deep-red with black marks and blue 'eyespots' (like a peacock’s tail feathers).

When: January-December

Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral ©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Red admiral

Description: Black with broad, red stripes on the wings with white spots near the tips.

When: January-December

Painted Lady

Painted Lady ©Scott Petrek

Painted lady

Description: Orange with black tips to the forewings covered with white and black spots.

When: April-October

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell ©Scott Petrek

Small tortoiseshell

Description: Reddish-orange with black and yellow markings and a ring of blue spots around the edge of the wings.

When: January-December

Large White butterfly

©Zsuzsanna Bird

Large white

Description: White with black tips to the forewings.

When: April-October

Small White butterfly

©Les Binns

Small white

Description: White with light grey tips to the forewings. 

When: April-October

Green-veined White

©Jon Hawkins

Green-veined white

Description: White with grey-black tips and one or two black spots.

When: April-October

Orange-tip Butterfly

Orange-tip ©Bob Coyle


Description: Males are white with bold orange patches on the forewings and light grey wingtips. Females are white with grey-black wingtips.

When: April-July

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown ©David Longshaw

Meadow brown

Description: Brown with washed-out orange patches on the forewings. One black eyespot with a small white ‘pupil’ on each forewing.

When: June-September

Small Copper butterfly

Small Copper ©Bob Coyle

Small copper

Description: Bright orange forewings with dark brown spots and a thick, dark brown margin. 

When: April-October

Holly Blue butterfly

Holly Blue ©Amy Lewis

Holly blue

Description: Bright blue with black spots on its silvery underside. Females have black wing edges.

When: April-September

Common Blue butterfly female

Female Common Blue ©Amy Lewis

Common blue

Description: Males have bright blue wings with a brown border. Females are brown with a blue 'dusting'. Both have orange spots on their undersides.

When: May-October

Garden Tiger moth

Garden tiger moth ©Margaret Holland

Not a butterfly!

There are lots of bright and beautiful moths in the UK. Some even fly during the day and are often mistaken for butterflies. If you can't find your butterfly here, take a look at our guide to common moths.

Identify moths