Scientific name: Aglais urticae
The pretty small tortoiseshell is a familiar garden visitor that can be seen feeding on flowers all year-round during warm spells. Overwintering adults may find resting spots in sheds, garages or even houses.
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutThe small tortoiseshell is a medium-sized, pretty butterfly that is common in gardens where it feeds on Buddleia and other flowers. It is on the wing throughout the year, having two or three broods and overwintering as an adult. The caterpillars feed on common nettle.
Male small tortoiseshells are very territorial, chasing each other, other butterflies and anything else that appears in their space. They court females by 'drumming' their antennae on the females' hindwings.
How to identifyThe small tortoiseshell is mainly reddish-orange in colour, with black and yellow markings on the forewings and a ring of blue spots around the edge of the wings. The similar painted lady is also orange with black spots, but lacks the yellow and blue markings.
In our area
Many of Shropshire Wildlife Trust's reserves are havens for butterfly species. We manage wildflower meadows and grasslands across the county that are high quality and abundant in insects.