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White Letter Hairstreak Credit: Dave Howson

Other Butterflies of the Dales

Small heath butterfly on pyramidal orchid

Small Heath

Coenonympha pamphilus

Family: Nymphalidae

The Small Heath is one of the family of butterflies that includes the ‘browns’.  The best chance of seeing it would be on a still sunny day between June and August on improved pastures, calcareous grasslands or acid moorland with short grass.  Its wings are always kept closed when at rest.

This species is widespread in the UK and occurs across much of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Despite large seasonal variations in population size that are a result of different weather conditions during the flight period, all the monitored populations in the YDNP are currently increasing or stable.

wall-brown-butterfly

Wall Butterfly

Lasiommata megera

Family: Nymphalidae

Like the Small Heath, the Wall butterfly is one of the family of ‘brown’ butterflies . The best chance of seeing it in the Dales would be on a still sunny day between June and August basking on south-facing walls and rock or banks in short, open grassland. It has two generations each year and lays its eggs on various wild grasses such as Cock’s-foot, Bents, Wavy Hair-grass and Yorkshire-fog.

Nationally it is found in northern and western areas particularly near the coast. It is thought that is has never been common in the Dales.

white-letter-hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak

Satyrium w-album

Family: Lycaenidae

The white letter hairstreak butterfly is in a family that includes hairstreaks, coppers and blue butterflies.  This is an elusive butterfly that mainly flies in or above the trees canopy.  The best chance of seeing it in the Dales would be in deciduous woodland or by isolated trees in lower Wharfedale on a still, sunny day.  Try looking for it in July, when it feeds on privet and bramble flowers under English and Wych Elm.  It has one generation each year and lays its eggs on Elms.

This species experienced significant declines across the country during the 1970s when the main foodplant were reduced by Dutch Elm Disease.  Populations are beginning to increase in many areas.  Within the National Park this species is known from a small number of sites in lower Wharfedale.