Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Small Tortoiseshell, Tortoiseshell Butterfly
by bekky. All rights reserved
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A widespread butterfly and frequent garden visiter, the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, is an attractive orange insect. Not to be confused with a painted lady and red admiral, you can distinguish them from the latter from the blue checkering that borders the wings. These butterflies can be seen in most habitats, drinking nectar from an array of flowers, Buddleia especially! They preferably use common nettle as a food plant for their larvae, so they tend not to be pests of garden plants.
These butterflies are excellent garden pollinators.
Threatened by pesticide and herbicide use and habitat losses.
Adults: Newly emerged butterflies are vividly orange, black and white. There are black and white splodges on the forewings, with three additional black spots. The hindwings have blue spots, or checkers, bordering the wing rears. The undersides of the wings comprise an array of browns. This makes the perfect camouflage when this butterfly is resting in trees and on the ground. Caterpillars: The larvae are covered in fine hairs, or spines, making them considerably spikey. They're variable in colour, but generally, are black/grey with pale yellow speckling, sometimes possessing longitudinal stripes. The caterpillars aggregate in numbers and spin webs of dense silk around the food plant. Pupae: The cocoons can be found hanging from stems and branches within deep vegetation. It looks like a shiny, malformed, dead leaf. Egg: Laid in batches of 20- 90. They're found beneath the leaves of nettles, the larval food plant.
Europe and some parts of Asia and Russia.
We don't advise removing these from the garden ecosystem. They provide pollination services for garden plants and food for wasps, spiders and birds.
It's not recommended to use pesticides on these butterflies.