Species of the Month - May 2018
This is a
female, with a greater extent of pale markings on the forewings
than the male, but with smaller black eye-spots on the hindwings.
The male, shown in
this photo from Knapdale by Caroline Anderson, has smaller pale
markings on the forewings, but has large black eyespots on the
They often land on ferns, as in this photo from Ballachulish by Jan Hamilton. The Speckled Wood has two generations per year, but the picture is complicated by the fact that some of the first generation, and therefore also their second generation offspring, get an earlier start than others due to their overwintering habits. "This species is unique among the butterflies of the British Isles in that it can overwinter in 2 stages, as both a larva and pupa. As a result, there is a mixed emergence with adult butterflies on the wing from April through to September, with a few adults being seen as early as March or as late as October" from the UK Butterflies site which has a huge amount of info on the Speckled Wood and other butterflies.
The chart below shows the Speckled Wood records on our database arranged by time of year. Make of it what you will! The more records people send in, the clearer the picture will become.
Speckled Woods from the same time and place. One kept landing with
its wings closed and in the plane of the sun, as if to minimise the
sunlight on its wings. The other did the opposite and exposed its
wings fully to the sun every time it landed. Perhaps it depends on
whether you're more concerned about warmth or visibility to predators.
Speckled Woods in the west of Scotland belong to the subspecies "oblita". It has whiter spots than the English subspecies, and this is especially so in the far north. This one is from Skye in 2003.
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