Nectar Sources

This page lists commonly-used nectar sources used by British butterflies and, although not exhaustive, does provide an indication of the range of plants visited by each butterfly species. The name of each nectar source links to a Google search. An indication of whether the foodplant is a primary or secondary nectar source is also given. Much of this information is taken from the paper Butterflies and Communities by Keith Porter, with Caroline Steel and Jeremy Thomas (Porter, 1992).

Common Name Scientific Name Primary Nectar Source For Secondary Nectar Source For
Betony Stachys officinalis
 Brimstone
Green-veined White
High Brown Fritillary
Marsh Fritillary
Peacock
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
White Admiral
Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Cryptic Wood White
Wood White
Chalk Hill Blue
Common Blue
Dingy Skipper
Glanville Fritillary
Grayling
Green Hairstreak
Grizzled Skipper
Large Skipper
Painted Lady
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Blue
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Skipper
Small White
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scriptus
 Brimstone
Chequered Skipper
Green-veined White
Large White
Orange-tip
Peacock
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small White
Swallowtail
Bramble Rubus fruticosus
Heath Fritillary
Silver-washed Fritillary
Black Hairstreak
Brown Hairstreak
Chequered Skipper
Comma
Cryptic Wood White
Gatekeeper
Grayling
High Brown Fritillary
Holly Blue
Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
Orange-tip
Purple Hairstreak
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Small Heath
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Speckled Wood
White Admiral
White-letter Hairstreak
Wood White
Bugle Ajuga reptans
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Brimstone
Chequered Skipper
Common Blue
Cryptic Wood White
Dingy Skipper
Duke of Burgundy
Green-veined White
Grizzled Skipper
Heath Fritillary
Holly Blue
Large Blue
Large Skipper
Large White
Marsh Fritillary
Orange-tip
Painted Lady
Small White
Wood White
Buttercups Ranunculus spp.
 Black Hairstreak
Cryptic Wood White
Dingy Skipper
Duke of Burgundy
Green-veined White
Grizzled Skipper
Heath Fritillary
Holly Blue
Marsh Fritillary
Meadow Brown
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Copper
Small Heath
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Wood White
Carline Thistle Carlina vulgaris
 Brimstone
Chalk Hill Blue
Common Blue
Dark Green Fritillary
Gatekeeper
Grayling
Large Blue
Large White
Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Painted Lady
Silver-spotted Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Carrion
 Purple Emperor
Cowslip Primula veris
 Brimstone
Cross-leaved Heath Erica tetralix
 Large Heath
Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis
 Green-veined White
Marsh Fritillary
Orange-tip
Peacock
Speckled Wood
Daisy Bellis perennis
 Small Copper
Small White
Wall
Dandelion Taraxacum agg.
 Brimstone
Clouded Yellow
Glanville Fritillary
Large Skipper
Large White
Marsh Fritillary
Orange-tip
Peacock
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Copper
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Speckled Wood
Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
 Brimstone
Brown Hairstreak
Gatekeeper
Large Skipper
Large White
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Scotch Argus
Small Heath
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Swallowtail
Dung
 Purple Emperor
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
 Chalk Hill Blue
Large Skipper
Large White
Scotch Argus
Small Tortoiseshell
Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica
Small Copper
Brimstone
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Essex Skipper
Gatekeeper
Green-veined White
Large White
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Heath
Small Skipper
Small White
Speckled Wood
Wall
Forget-me-not Myosotis spp.
 Holly Blue
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
 Cryptic Wood White
Green-veined White
Large White
Orange-tip
Small Heath
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Wood White
Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea
 Chequered Skipper
Hawkweeds Hieracium/Hypochoeris
 Dingy Skipper
Glanville Fritillary
Large Heath
Marsh Fritillary
Mountain Ringlet
Orange-tip
Painted Lady
Peacock
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Copper
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Wall
Hawthorns (various) Crataegus spp.
 Duke of Burgundy
Heather Calluna vulgaris / Erica spp.
 Essex Skipper
Grayling
Heath Fritillary
Large Heath
Painted Lady
Scotch Argus
Silver-studded Blue
Small Copper
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum
 Brown Hairstreak
Gatekeeper
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Purple Hairstreak
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Small Tortoiseshell
Hogweed / Angelica Umbelliferae
 Black Hairstreak
Brown Hairstreak
Purple Hairstreak
White Admiral
White-letter Hairstreak
Holly Ilex spp.
 Holly Blue
Honeydew / Sap
Black Hairstreak
Brown Hairstreak
Large Blue
Large Tortoiseshell
Purple Emperor
Purple Hairstreak
Speckled Wood
White Admiral
White-letter Hairstreak
Green Hairstreak
Holly Blue
Peacock
Red Admiral
Ivy Hedera helix
 Comma
Holly Blue
Painted Lady
Red Admiral
Small Tortoiseshell
Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria
 Common Blue
Large Skipper
Ringlet
Small Blue
Small Heath
Knapweeds Centaurea spp.
 Brimstone
Clouded Yellow
Comma
Common Blue
Dark Green Fritillary
Heath Fritillary
High Brown Fritillary
Large Skipper
Large White
Marbled White
Marsh Fritillary
Meadow Brown
Painted Lady
Scotch Argus
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Wall
Marjoram Origanum vulgare
 Adonis Blue
Brimstone
Brown Argus
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Grayling
Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Ringlet
Scotch Argus
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Wall
White-letter Hairstreak
Primrose Primula vulgaris
 Brimstone
Small Tortoiseshell
Privet Ligustrum vulgare
 Black Hairstreak
Comma
Gatekeeper
Green Hairstreak
Holly Blue
Large Skipper
Meadow Brown
Painted Lady
Peacock
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Speckled Wood
White Admiral
White-letter Hairstreak
Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
 Brimstone
Cryptic Wood White
Dingy Skipper
Green-veined White
Grizzled Skipper
Large Skipper
Large White
Marsh Fritillary
Orange-tip
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small White
Swallowtail
Wall
Wood White
Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
 Adonis Blue
Brown Argus
Brown Hairstreak
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Gatekeeper
Green-veined White
Large White
Meadow Brown
Painted Lady
Peacock
Ringlet
Scotch Argus
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Copper
Small Heath
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Speckled Wood
Wall
White-letter Hairstreak
Red Campion Silene dioica
 Brimstone
Green-veined White
Orange-tip
Small White
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
 Cryptic Wood White
Essex Skipper
Gatekeeper
Grayling
Marbled White
Painted Lady
Small Copper
Small Skipper
Small White
Swallowtail
Wood White
Sanfoin Onobrychis viciifolia
 Large White
Small Skipper
Small White
Selfheal Prunella vulgaris
 Brimstone
Chalk Hill Blue
Meadow Brown
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Teasel Dipsacus fullonum
 Grayling
Large White
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Red Admiral
Swallowtail
Thistles Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.
Brimstone
Comma
Dark Green Fritillary
Essex Skipper
High Brown Fritillary
Large White
Marbled White
Painted Lady
Peacock
Small White
Brimstone
Brown Hairstreak
Chalk Hill Blue
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Gatekeeper
Grayling
Green-veined White
Holly Blue
Large Skipper
Marsh Fritillary
Meadow Brown
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Scotch Argus
Silver-spotted Skipper
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Copper
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Swallowtail
Wall
White Admiral
White-letter Hairstreak
Thrift Armeria spp.
 Glanville Fritillary
Thyme Thymus polytrichus
 Brown Argus
Chalk Hill Blue
Common Blue
Gatekeeper
High Brown Fritillary
Large Blue
Marbled White
Mountain Ringlet
Northern Brown Argus
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
Duke of Burgundy
Heath Fritillary
Large Heath
Marsh Fritillary
Mountain Ringlet
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Small Heath
Vetches Vicia spp.
 Brimstone
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Cryptic Wood White
Dingy Skipper
Green-veined White
Large Skipper
Orange-tip
Small Blue
Small Skipper
Wood White
Water Mint Mentha aquatica
 Gatekeeper
Holly Blue
Peacock
Silver-washed Fritillary
Small Tortoiseshell
Wall
White Clover Trifolium repens
 Brown Argus
Common Blue
Essex Skipper
Large Heath
Marbled White
Wood Spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides
 Duke of Burgundy
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
 Large Skipper
Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Peacock
Small Copper
Small Heath
Wall