Meadow Brown Butterfly
Meadow Brown Butterfly, Meadow Brown
Maniola jurtina is a regionally variable butterfly possessing four separate subspecies. The differences in number and size of the eyespots on the wings have left geneticists so fascinated that this butterfly has been the centre of many research projects. You can find these butterflies in most parts of the UK, the species being distinctively larger in Ireland and Scotland.
This butterfly is a widespread butterfly that's active wind or shine.
These butterflies are a variable species, but there are some consistent traits that all subspecies share. The wings are a deep chocolate brown to sepia (age-region dependent). The hue of the brown can be variable. The forewings possess some orange colouring within the middle parts of the wings. Again, the hue (brightness) and the total percentage of the wing that is orange can vary. A pair of eyespots on the front wings (forewings). The number of eyespots/ spots on the wings can vary. The caterpillars begin an off-white cream. They look similar to gatekeeper caterpillars being covered in long spines but these eventually grow chunkier. They turn pale green once they've started feeding on grasses. Tip: Don't get these confused with the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper possesses a row of white dots on the hind underwing. Gatekeepers are also smaller with more orange on the wings.
These butterflies are steadily distributed across the UK. They're also present in mainland Europe.
Butterflies are important pollinators; they're also a vital resource for garden wildlife, like birds, reptiles, and other predatory insects. Unfortunately, the larvae, or caterpillars, can sometimes be pests in years where conditions are optimum for breeding. If in high abundance, caterpillars may be picked off garden plants using gloves and relocated.
These butterflies tend not to use garden plants as the primary food source when larvae, but they will feed on the nectar of a range of flowers as adults. As they provide valuable pollination services to the garden, chemical treatments are strongly discouraged, its recommended to use eco-friendly biological treatments if infestations are large and problematic.
The caterpillars of this species will feed on a variety of grasses. Find them in an array of habitat types, including grassland, woodland rides, field margins, hedgerows, road verges and overgrown gardens.