Speckled Wood

Pararge aegeria (pa-RAH-jee ee-JEER-ee-uh)

Speckled Wood male - Solihull West Midlands 29.04.2014
Photo © Neil Freeman
 

Wingspan
Male: 46 - 52mm
Female: 48 - 56mm

Checklist Number
59.003

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:SatyrinaeBoisduval, 1833
Tribe:ElymniiniHerrich-Schäffer, 1864
Genus:ParargeHübner, [1819]
Subgenus:  
Species:aegeria(Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies:tircis (Godart, 1821)
 oblita Harrison, 1949
 insula Howarth, 1971

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Introduction

The Speckled Wood is a common butterfly and familiar to many observers, especially in woodland where, as its name suggests, it is most often found. The appearance of this butterfly changes from north to south, forming a "cline", where individuals in the north are dark brown with white spots, with those in more southerly locations being dark brown with orange spots. This has given rise to a number of subspecies.

In England this butterfly is found south of a line between Westmorland in the west and South-east Yorkshire in the east, with a few scattered colonies further north. It is also found in the west and north of Scotland, but is absent from the south, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. It is widespread in both Wales and Ireland, but is absent from exposed high ground. This species is expanding its range and it is anticipated that it will eventually fill the gaps in its distribution.

Taxonomy Notes

In addition to the named subspecies, Thompson (1952) identified a race that formed an altitudinal cline in Snowdonia, south-west of the river Conway, giving it the name ssp. drumensis. The single-brooded adults flew in June at high altitude above the tree line, and were large with pale prominent markings.

Fruhstorfer (1909) uses the name f. aestivalis to describe the summer generation, the spots lighter in tint and not so large as those of the spring form.

Pararge aegeria ssp. aegeria

The species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Southern Europe and Mauritania). The nominate subspecies has not been recorded in the British Isles.

Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis

This subspecies was first defined in Godart (1821) as shown here and as shown in this plate (type locality: Germany).

This subspecies occurs through the range of this species, with the exception of Scotland and the Isles of Scilly. The spring brood has larger cream spots than those of the summer brood.

Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis (Godart, 1821)

Original (French)

Le dessus des ailes est d'un brun-obscur, avec des taches d'un jaune-d'ocre. Les ailes supérieures en ont une douzaine, sans compter un oeil noir à prunelle blanche, placé vis-à-vis du sommet. Les ailes inférieures en ont deux, derrière lesquelles il y a une bande pareillement jaune, offrant quatre yeux noirs, dont l'antérieur plus petit et sans prunelle, les autres avec une prunelle blanche.

Le dessous des premières ailes ressemble au dessus; seulement le fond et les taches en sont un peu plus pâles. Le dessous des secondes ailes est d'un gris-verdâtre légèrement chatoyant, avec deux lignes brunes, transverses, ondulées, à la suite desquelles il y a deux taches jaunâtres, puis une rangée courbe de cinq à six points blanchâtres entourés de brun, enfin une teinte violâtre qui couvre presque tout le bord postérieur.

Les antennes sont colorées comme dans les deux espèces précédentes; mais leur massue est en fuseau.

Translation

The upperside of the wings is dark brown, with spots of yellow-ochre. The forewings have a dozen of these, as well as a black eyespot with a white pupil positioned towards the apex. The hindwings have two (yellow ochre spots), behind which there is a band of a similar yellow colour, showing four black eyespots, of which the foremost is smaller and lacks a pupil, the others having a white pupil.

The underside of the forewings resembles the upperside; only the ground colour and the spots are a little paler. The underside of the hindwings is green-grey, slightly lustrous, with two brown, wavy, transverse lines, outside which there are two yellowish spots, then a curved array of five to six whitish points surrounded by brown, finally a violet tint which covers almost all the outer margin.

The antennae are coloured as in the two preceding species [Wall, Large Wall]; but their club is tapered.

Spring Brood

Speckled Wood male - Solihull 17.05.2013

Male
Photo © Neil Freeman

Speckled Wood - Rewell Wood, Sussex 18-April-2011

Male Underside
Photo © Neil Hulme

Speckled Wood female - Solihull West Midlands 22.04.2014

Female
Photo © Neil Freeman

Speckled Wood (female), West Sussex (22 May 2013)

Female Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Speckled Wood male summer brood - Solihull West Midlands 25.06.2013

Male
Photo © Neil Freeman

Speckled Wood - Shipton Bellinger - 30 Aug 2010

Male Underside
Photo © Clive

Speckled Wood female - Grafton Wood Worcestershire 26.08.2012

Female
Photo © Neil Freeman

Speckled Wood female - Shadowbrook Meadows Solihull 19.06.2015

Female Underside
Photo © Neil Freeman

Photo Album ...


Pararge aegeria ssp. oblita

This subspecies was first defined in Harrison (1949) (type locality: Loch Scresort, Isle of Rhum, Scotland).

The initial distribution of this subspecies of Loch Scresort, Rhum, was extended by Howarth (1973) to include Canna and by Dennis (1977) to include Oban and northern Argyll. Thomson (1980) extends the distribution to include western and north-western Scotland and its neighbouring islands: "The subspecies oblita inhabits the western part of Argyllshire, western Inverness-shire and as far north as Inverewe, Ross-shire, including Mull, Ulva, Canna, Rhum, Skye, Jura and possibly other islands of the Inner Hebrides. The newly discovered populations of eastern Ross-shire, eastern Inverness-shire, Nairnshire and Morayshire, and the extinct colonies in Wigtownshire, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, probably also belong to this race". Aldwell & Smyth (2015) extend the distribution of this subspecies further: "Some of the Donegal photographs revealed the presence of another subspecies there P. aegeria oblita".

Like the subspecies tircis, the spring brood has larger cream spots than those of the summer brood. It differs from the subspecies tircis as follows:

  • 1. The overall appearance is much whiter.
  • 2. There is a much great contrast overall, with the dark markings appearing blacker and the pale spots appearing whiter.

According to Howarth (1973) this subspecies has "larger ocelli on the upper side of the hind wings than tircis Butler". Dennis (1977) also says that "the lilac marginal band on the hindwing underside is more purple and more extensive".

Pararge aegeria ssp. oblita (Harrison, 1949)

♂ ♀. Ground colour above and below much whiter than in the form aegerides Stgr., and the blackish markings above and below definitely blacker in the more intensively marked areas and greyer elsewhere.

♂ Holotype - Loch Scresort., Isle of Rhum, August 8th, 1948.

♀ Allotype - same data.

Spring Brood

Male

Male Underside

Speckled Wood - imago - Loch Creran, Inverness [Adrian Riley]

Female
Photo © Adrian Riley

Female Underside

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Male

Male Underside

Speckled Wood ssp. oblita - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14

Female
Photo © Pete Eeles

Speckled Wood - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15-4

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album ...


Pararge aegeria ssp. insula

This subspecies was first defined in Howarth (1971a) (type locality: Isles of Scilly, England).

This subspecies represents the population found on the Isles of Scilly. Like the subspecies tircis, the spring brood has larger spots than those of the summer brood. It differs from the subspecies tircis as follows:

  • 1. The upperside has better-developed orange markings, especially those surrounding the spots on the hindwing.
  • 2. The underside of the forewing has orange, rather than cream, markings toward the centre.
  • 3. The underside of the hindwing has a darker purplish-grey area at the margin, providing more contrast.

Pararge aegeria ssp. insula (Howarth, 1971)

While on a visit to the Scilly Isles during September, 1970, Mr. Austin Richardson discovered a small and isolated colony of Pararge aegeria (L.) on the isle of St. Mary's; specimens from this colony are here described as a new subspecies.

Compared with ssp. tircis Butler from southern England the ground colour of ssp. insula is a deeper yellowish orange and more nearly resembles that of the nominate subspecies aegeria from southern Europe. The specimens in the type series were all taken in September and therefore are representatives of a late second or possible third brood. However, in general appearance and size of markings, they resemble the first rather than the second generation, form aestivalis Fruhstorfer [Fruhstorfer (1909)] of ssp. tircis.

The following description is a comparison with the latter:

Male. Upperside. The orange markings are better developed, particularly those surrounding the post-discal series of ocelli on the hindwing and the spot is space 5. Underside. The forewing has the base of space 2 filled with a broad, almost clear orange marking which is immediately above and adjacent to a similar marking in space 1. In aestivalis the latter is broadly darkened basad and the marking above suffused. The hindwing has the purplish grey marginal area slightly darker and in more contrast to the discal markings so that the wing appears slightly more variegated in coloration.

Female. Upperside. Similar to the male but the tawny markings are better developed, particularly the marking at the base of space 2 and that immediately below it, which, in this area of the male is partially obscured by the androconial brand. Underside. Similar to that of the male.

Holotype. ♂, Scilly Isles, St.Mary's, ix.1970, Austin Richardson, B.M. 1970-712.

Allotype ♀, same data as holotype.

Paratypes: 11 ♂, 1 ♀, same data as holotype.

Spring Brood

Speckled Wood - imago - Trenoweth, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 01-Apr-12 [Martin Goodey]

Male
Photo © Martin Goodey

Male Underside

Female

Female Underside

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Speckled Wood (male), St Martin's, Isles of Scilly (31 August 2012)

Male
Photo © Mark Colvin

Speckled Wood (male), St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (29 August 2012)

Male Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

Speckled Wood (female), Tresco, Isles of Scilly (30 August 2012)

Female
Photo © Mark Colvin

Female Underside

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1704Enfield EyePetiver (1702-1706)
1749Wood ArgusWilkes (1749)
1766Speckled WoodHarris (1766)
1853Wood LadyMorris (1853)

Conservation Status

This is one of our few species that is doing well, with a sustained expansion to its range. It is believed that this butterfly has benefited from a reduction in coppicing, resulting in shadier woodland that this butterfly favours. As such, it is not a species of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Not Listed
Large Increase+71
Large Increase+84
Stable+3
Stable+4

The table above shows the occurrence (distribution) and abundance (population) trends, using information from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015 (Fox, 2015). Any UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).

Habitat

As its names suggests, this butterfly is primarily found in woodland, but can be found anywhere there is sufficient scrub to provide the shaded conditions that this butterfly favours which includes gardens and hedgerows.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

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, especially at southern sites. There are 2 or 3 generations, depending on location and weather conditions and adults of later generations are generally darker than those emerging earlier in the year.

"Ova laid May 18th, 1890. Hatched May 28th, remaining nine days in the egg state. First moult 6 a.m., June 6th. Second moult evening, June 11th. Third moult 2 p.m., June 18th. Fully grown June 24th. Pupated June 25th, evening. Butterflies emerged during the second week of July, 1890. First brood. Ova laid July 7th, 1890. Hatched July 17th, remaining ten days in the egg state. Spun up August 8th. Pupated morning, August 10th. First imago emerged August 24th, being fourteen days in the pupal state. Second brood. Ova laid September 17th, 1902, which produced butterflies in March (first emerged on 15th), 1903. Ova laid during the second week of September, 1909; by October 12th all the larvae except three out of about fifty had moulted first time, and some almost ready for second moult. Second moult, end of October. Third moult, end of March, 1910. Pupated (first one April 23rd, 1910. Imago emerged May 20th, 1910." - Frohawk (1924)

Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis

Pararge aegeria ssp. oblita

Pararge aegeria ssp. insula

The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.

Imago

This butterfly is often seen in more-sheltered conditions than other species and is often the only species seen in dappled shade, or in overcast conditions.

The male is territorial and will inhabit a particular clearing or hedgerow, where he will rest on a prominent sunlit perch waiting for a passing female. Other males are soon seen off before the defending male returns to a favourite perch. If no suitable territory can be found, or when there is a large number of males, the male will patrol in search of a mate instead. When a male encounters a receptive female, which has a more laboured flight than the male, she will fall to the ground or a nearby leaf where, after a brief courtship, the pair mate.

Both sexes feed from honeydew, but also take nectar from a variety of plants when honeydew is scarce, such as Ragwort.

Adults feed primarily on Honeydew / Sap. Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) and Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) are also used.

Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis

Spring Brood

Speckled Wood - imago - Woolhampton - 08-Apr-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Speckled Wood Female (Newly Hatched) - Caterham, Surrey 18-April-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Apr-2010

Speckled Wood newly emerged. Seaford.6/4/2012.

Photo © badgerbob
06-Apr-2012

Speckled Wood ovipositing female - Solihull West Midlands 15.05.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
15-May-2015

Speckled Wood - imago - Midgham Lakes - 30-Apr-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
30-Apr-2010

Speckled Wood male - Solihull West Midlands 20.04.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
20-Apr-2015

Speckled Wood male - Solihull 19.05.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
19-May-2013

Speckled Wood - imago - Midgham Lakes - 14-Apr-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
14-Apr-2009

Speckled Wood Pair - John Muir Country Park, East Lothian 16/05/12

Photo © NickMorgan

Speckled Wood

Photo © Charlotte Brett

Speckled Wood - Somerset - 08/06/13

Photo © William
08-Jun-2013

Speckled Wood Male - Kenley, Surrey 26-March-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Mar-2012

Speckled Wood - Newly Emerged - 29.3.15 - Bournemouth, Dorset

Photo © Coopera

Speckled Wood Female? - Crawley, Sussex 19-April-07

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2007

Speckled Wood - imago - Midgham Lakes - 19-Apr-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
19-Apr-2009

Speckled Wood - imago - Midgham Lakes - 15-Apr-07 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Apr-2007

Speckled Wood, male, Greenford, Middlesex, 03/04/2011

Photo © Lee Hurrell

Speckled Wood Male (Pale Form) - Crawley, Sussex 27-April-07

Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Apr-2007

Speckled Wood Male - Crawley, Sussex 8-June-05

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jun-2005

Speckled Wood Male - Kenley, Surrey 26-March-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Mar-2012

Photo Album (44 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Speckled Wood male summer brood - Solihull West Midlands 25.06.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
25-Jun-2013

Speckled Wood male - Solihull West Midlands 10.06.2012

Photo © Neil Freeman
10-Jun-2012

Speckled Wood Male (Dark Form) - Crawley, Sussex 13-June-05

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2005

Speckled Wood (m&f) 3.9.09 East Sussex.Downland boy

Photo © downland boy

Speckled Wood - female - Greenham Common - 10-Aug-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Aug-2014

Speckled Wood - male - Greenham Common - 09-Aug-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Aug-2014

Speckled Wood - imago - Thatcham - 15-Jul-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Jul-2009

Speckled Wood Female - Addington, Surrey 15-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Jun-2010

Speckled Wood Male (Dark Form) - Addington, Surrey 15-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Jun-2010

Speckled Wood male - Solihull 05.08.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
05-Aug-2014

Speckled Wood male, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea, 19,06.2013

Photo © David M
19-Jun-2013

Speckled Wood - female - Greenham Common - 10-Aug-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Aug-2014

Speckled Wood - Stanwell Moor, Middlesex 18-Aug-2009

Photo © millerd
18-Aug-2009

Speckled Wood female - Solihull 28.08.16

Photo © Neil Freeman
28-Aug-2016

Speckled Wood - Shipton Bellinger - 30 Aug 2010

Photo © Clive
30-Aug-2010

Speckled Wood male - Worthing, Sussex 14-Aug-2012

Photo © Neil Hulme
14-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood female - Castle Hills Solihull 22.09.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
22-Sep-2013

Speckled Wood pair, near Foulden, Berwickshire, Scotland. 9th August 2011.

Photo © IAC
Scotland
09-Aug-2011

Speckled Wood on Ivy flower - Coverdale 24.09.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
22-Sep-2014

Speckled Wood  Bookham Common Surrey  26th August 2012

Photo © millerd
26-Aug-2012

Photo Album (30 photos) ...


Pararge aegeria ssp. oblita

Spring Brood

Speckled Wood - imago - Loch Creran, Inverness [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Speckled Wood ssp. oblita - female - Ardnamurchan Peninsula, Scotland - 17-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood ssp. oblita - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood ssp. oblita - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15-3

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2015

Speckled Wood - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2015

Speckled Wood - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2015

Photo Album (6 photos) ...


Pararge aegeria ssp. insula

Spring Brood

Speckled Wood - imago - St Marys, Isles of Scilly - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Speckled Wood - imago - Trenoweth, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 01-Apr-12 [Martin Goodey]

Photo © Martin Goodey

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Speckled Wood - imago - St. Martins, Scilly - 08-Jul-05 [Simon Green]

Photo © Simon Green

Speckled Wood (male), St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (29 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
29-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood (male), St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (29 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
29-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood (male), Tresco, Isles of Scilly (30 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
30-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood (male), St Martin's, Isles of Scilly (31 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
31-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood (female), Tresco, Isles of Scilly (30 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
30-Aug-2012

Speckled Wood (female), St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (31 August 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
31-Aug-2012

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


Ovum

The spherical eggs are very light green in colour are laid singly, sometimes in pairs, on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant. It is believed that temperature is a major factor when a female chooses a plant on which to lay. In spring and autumn eggs are laid on plants in more-open positions than those laid in the summer, when more-shaded plants are used. Eggs hatch after 1 to 3 weeks, depending on temperature.

"The egg is 0.80 mm. high, of a spheroid form, widest near the base. The colour is of a translucent greenish-yellow. The whole surface is finely reticulated, forming a fine honeycomb pattern over the crown and base, and delicately keeled down the middle. The keels are very irregular and connected by fine transverse ribs, which gradually form into shallow hexagonal cells on nearing the summit and base. The egg does not alter in colour owing to the larva being of similar colouring to the egg, excepting that shortly before the emergence of the larva its dark head shows clearly through the delicate shell, making the crown of the egg very dark. The eggs are laid singly on blades of grasses." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood (pair of ova) - Crawley, Sussex 24-April-2009

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Apr-2009

Speckled Wood Ovum - Somerset - 29/06/13

Photo © William
29-Jun-2013

Speckled Wood - ovum - Pamber Forest - 16-Jun-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Specked Wood ovum 02.07.13

Photo © Tony Moore
A 99 shot focus stack.
01-Jul-2013

Speckled Wood Egg, Cirencester Park, Glos 6/10/13

Photo © jamesweightman

Speckled Wood egg hatch sequence 10/10/2013

Photo © jamesweightman

14 day old Speckled Wood ovum (48 hours before hatching) - Hampshire 2.5.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield

Speckled Wood ovum - Crawley, Sussex 25-May-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
25-May-2014

Speckled Wood ovum - Crawley, Sussex 13-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood ovum (soon to hatch) - Crawley, Sussex 19-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood eggs, Walthamstow Marshes, 19.9.14

Photo © bugboy
19-Sep-2014

Speckled Wood - ovum - Pamber Forest - 15-Sep-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Sep-2016

Speckled Wood - ovum - Pamber Forest - 15-Sep-16-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Sep-2016

Photo Album (13 photos) ...


Larva

The young larva sits on the underside of the leaf feeding, both day and night, from the leaf edge toward the midrib. Larger larvae will move from plant to plant to feed and, as winter approaches, will rest at the base of the plant. Depending on the temperature and amount of daylight, some larvae will reach pupation, this species being the only butterfly in the British Isles that passes the winter in 2 different stages - as larva and pupa, although it is believed that only 3rd instar larvae are able to successfully overwinter. This stage can be passed in as little as 25 days when the temperature is high. There are 3 or 4 moults in total.

The primary larval foodplants are Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) and Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus).

Speckled Wood larvae (fresh second and third instars) - Crawley, Sussex 28-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larvae (first and second instars) pre-moult - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Jun-2014

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


1st Instar

"The larva, directly after it emerges, eats the empty egg-shell, leaving only the base, which is attached to the grass. Directly after emergence the larva measures 2.5 mm. long; it is cylindrical, of a pale primrose-yellow; the head is large and globular, intensely black and shining. On each segment are ten olive-coloured tubercles forming longitudinal series, each bearing a white serrated hair; those along the dorsal surface are the longest and curve backwards, the super-spiracular hair curves forwards and the two sub-spiracular hairs project laterally, these form a straight lateral series; on the base of each clasper is a similar but smaller pair. The spiracles are also of an olive colour. The hairs on the first segment are all directed forwards and those on the last segment project backwards; the head bears a number of similar hairs of different length, all curving forwards; the claspers and legs are the same colour as the body. Before the first moult it measures 4.20 mm. long. The colour is a clear yellowish-green, with a darker green medio-dorsal line, bordered on each side by a fine whitish line, a sub-dorsal white line, broadest on the anterior segments, and a fine lateral whitish line." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood larva shortly after hatching - Hampshire 4.5.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield

6 day old 1st instar Speckled Wood larva 10.5.2104

Photo © Paul Harfield

11 day old 1st instar Speckled Wood Larva - prior to moult - 15.5.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield

Speckled Wood larva (consuming eggshell) - Crawley, Sussex 19-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (newly emerged) - Crawley, Sussex 2-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (after first meal) - Crawley, Sussex 2-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (first instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (first instar) - Crawley, Sussex 4-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (first instar) pre-moult - Crawley, Sussex 5-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood Larva - Somerset - 25/05/16

Photo © William
25-May-2016

Speckled Wood Larva - Somerset - 25/05/16

Photo © William
25-May-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 22-Sep-16-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-Sep-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 22-Sep-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-Sep-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 29-Sep-16-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Sep-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 29-Sep-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Sep-2016

Photo Album (15 photos) ...


2nd Instar

"Before the second moult it is 8.5 mm. in length. The ground colour is a clear light green, with a rather darker pure green medio-dorsal longitudinal stripe, bordered by a yellowish-white line; then a band of mottled whitish-green, followed by a sub-dorsal white line, and two other less distinct white lines below, one above and one below the spiracles, which terminate in the white anal points. The whole ventral surface, including the claspers, is light green. The head is pale opaque green, and covered with rather long hairs, and the eye spots are black. The body is thickly sprinkled with fine, slightly curved hairs, varying in length; some are white and others black." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood 2nd instar larva 16/10/2013

Photo © jamesweightman
14-Oct-2013

13 day old 2nd Instar Speckled Wood larva 17.5.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield

16 day old 2nd instar Speckled Wood larva - prior to moult - 20.5.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield

Speckled Wood larva (fresh second instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (second instar) - Crawley, Sussex 7-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (second instar) - Crawley, Sussex 7-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo

Speckled Wood larva (second instar) - Crawley, Sussex 8-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (second instar) pre-moult - Crawley, Sussex 9-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 05-Oct-16-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Oct-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 05-Oct-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Oct-2016

Speckled Wood - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 24-Oct-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Oct-2016

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


3rd Instar

"The second moult occurred at the end of October, 1909, and shortly after they entered into partial hibernation and rested upon a little layer of silk spun on the grass stem. By the beginning of February, 1910 (after the second moult), when 126 days old, the larva measures 10.5 mm. long; excepting being rather darker green it is similar in all respects to the previous stage. Just before the third moult it measures 12.7 mm. long. One fixed for moulting March 20th and moulted the third time on the 27th, being seven days undergoing the change." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood larva (fresh third instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (third instar) - Crawley, Sussex 12-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (third instar) - Crawley, Sussex 12-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (third instar) pre-moult - Crawley, Sussex 9-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood larva. High and Over, Seaford. East Sussex. 3/3/2016.

Photo © badgerbob

Speckled Wood - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 10-Jan-17 [REARED]-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Jan-2017

Speckled Wood - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 10-Jan-17 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Jan-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


4th Instar

"After third moult, fully grown, 200 days old, it varies in length from 25 mm. to 28.6 mm. It is slender and tapers at each end; the head is prominent and slightly notched on the crown, each lobe being very slightly pointed on the top, and sprinkled with green warts of various sizes, each bearing a proportionate greyish hair; the eye spots are brown and placed on a cream-coloured band; the thoracic (first three) segments are divided into four sub-divisions, the remaining segments into six, the first sub-division being the widest. The ground colour is a clear grass-green, with a darker dull green medio-dorsal longitudinal stripe, faint on the first two segments and attenuated at the ends, and bordered by a light greenish-yellow line and a fainter and narrower sub-dorsal line, followed by three more still fainter and rather wavy lines, one super-spiracular, one spiracular and one sub-spiracular; the spiracles are small and yellow. The whole of the ventral surface, including the claspers, is a clear translucent green; the legs are paler; the whole surface is sparsely sprinkled with minute whitish warts, each bearing a greyish, slightly serrated hair similar to the head; those on the dorsal surface are most clearly pronounced, and the warts, or rather bases, of the hairs form short tubercles; the surface of the body is very finely granular; the anal segment projects and terminates in two diverging whitish points covered with grey hairs. Before pupation the stripes and lines gradually become fainter, the entire colouring being a clear green, the medio-dorsal stripe being only just visible. During the last few days they feed almost unceasingly. When suspended for pupation it hangs in a distinct loop, with its head brought up to the ninth segment, almost touching the claspers. One suspended itself on April 20th and pupated April 23rd, another hung up April 24th and pupated April 27th." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood - larva - Thatcham - 27-Oct-05 (3) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Oct-2005

Speckled Wood - larva - Thatcham - 27-Oct-05 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Oct-2005

Speckled Wood larva (fresh fourth instar) - Crawley, Sussex 15-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (fourth instar) - Crawley, Sussex 16-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (fourth instar) - Crawley, Sussex 19-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (fourth instar) - Crawley, Sussex 20-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (full grown fourth instar) - Crawley, Sussex 23-June-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Jun-2014

Speckled Wood larva (preparing to pupate) - Crawley, Sussex 20-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood larva Hedge End, Hampshire 20.10.2014

Photo © Paul Harfield
20-Oct-2014

Speckled Wood - Larva prior pupation - 20.3.15 - Bournemouth, Dorset

Photo © Coopera

Speckled Wood - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 10-Jan-17 [REARED]-3

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Jan-2017

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa is formed head down from a grass stem or nearby leaf litter, attached by the cremaster. This stage can be as short as 10 days for those pupae that go on to produce adults in the same year.

"The pupa measures 12.7 mm. long and 6.35 mm. wide across the middle of the abdomen; although stout in proportion it is of beautiful formation. Side view: Head beaked in front, the crown gradually rises to the swollen meso-thorax, which has a slight medio-dorsal keel; it is sunken at the meta-thorax; the abdomen is swollen and rounded at the middle and abruptly attenuated, and ending in a well developed cremaster; the ventral surface forms an undulating outline, the apical half of the wings ample and rounded. Dorsal view: Head bi-angulated, having two conical lateral points; base of wings with angular projections, the inner margin with a ridge; abdomen ample and rounded, abruptly tapered and terminating in a well developed, slightly cleft, dorsally grooved cremaster, amply provided with long-stalked, amber-brown hooks, exactly like those of Coenonympha pamphilus. At first the colouring is a brilliant translucent green, which gradually becomes opaque, and the normal colour is attained when twenty-four hours old. It varies in colour from dull greenish-olive-buff to brilliant green. The dark variety has the ground colour pale, dull olive-green over the head, thorax and wings, and the abdomen bullish; it is finely streaked and speckled with brown; the neuration and outer edge of inner margin of wing black; also three dark blotches along the costal margin and other dark blotches on the legs; there are four longitudinal dull olive-brown stripes on each side of the abdomen and a medio-dorsal band more or less green; a white stripe runs along the inner margin of the wing bordering the black outer streak; the ventral frontal edge of the head is outlined with white. There are two sub-dorsal rows of white tubercles on the abdomen, commencing on the second and ending on the sixth segment; the spiracles are pinkish. The green variety varies in intensity, some are grass-green and others of a beautiful brilliant pure green. In both forms the markings are of different shades of green; the entire surface is beautifully reticulated and checkered with pure green on a greenish-white ground. The white tubercles and markings are similar to those of the dark form. The whole surface is quite smooth. The pupa is firmly attached by the cremastral hooks to a pad of silk spun on a grass stem; usually the cast larval skin adheres to the silken pad. The larva feed upon various grasses. The common annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) is as suitable as any as a food plant for P. egeria. One imago emerged May 20th and another emerged May 24th, remaining twenty-seven days in the pupal state." - Frohawk (1924)

Speckled Wood pupa (freshly emerged) - Crawley, Sussex 20-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (15 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood emerging - Crawley, Sussex 29-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (24 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (3 days before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 26-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (17 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa - Crawley, Sussex 23-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood emerging - Crawley, Sussex 4-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (29 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood - pupa - Thatcham - 27-Oct-05 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Oct-2005

Speckled Wood - pupa - Thatcham - 27-Oct-05 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Oct-2005

Speckled Wood pupa (21 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood pupa (13 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 29-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood - Pupa - 26.3.15 - Bournemouth, Dorset

Photo © Coopera

Speckled Wood Pupa (1 Day Before Hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 17-April-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Apr-2010

Speckled Wood - Pupa - 25.3.15 - Bournemouth, Dorset

Photo © Coopera

Speckled Wood pupa found inside shed) - Caterham, Surrey 1-Nov-09

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Nov-2009

Speckled Wood pupa (32 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 28-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood emerging - Crawley, Sussex 4-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Jul-2014

Speckled Wood emerging - Crawley, Sussex 29-July-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jul-2014

Photo Album (28 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

Videos


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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Aldwell & Smyth (2015) Aldwell, R. & Smyth, F. (2015) The Butterflies of Donegal.
Boisduval (1833) Boisduval, J.A. (1833) Icones historiques des Lépidoptères d'Europe nouveaux.
Dennis (1977) Dennis, R.L.H. (1977) The British Butterflies - Their Origin and Establishment.
Frohawk (1924) Frohawk, F.W. (1924) The Natural History of British Butterflies.
Fruhstorfer (1909) Fruhstorfer, H. (1909) Neue paläarktische Satyriden. Entomologische Zeitschrift.
Godart (1821) Godart, J.B. (1821) Histoire naturelle des lépidoptères ou papillons de France.
Hübner (1819) Hübner, J. (1819) Verzeichniss bekannter Schmettlinge.
Harris (1766) Harris, M. (1766) The Aurelian. Edition 1.
Harrison (1949) Harrison, J.W.H. (1949) Rhopalocera in the Scottish Western Isles in 1948, with an account of two new forms of Pararge aegeria L. (Lep. Satyridae). Entomologist's Monthly Magazine.
Herrich-Schäffer (1864) Herrich-Schäffer, G.A.W. (1864) Prodromus Systematis Lepidopterorum. Versuch einer systematischen Anordnung der Schmetterlinge.
Howarth (1971a) Howarth, T.G. (1971) Descriptions of a new British subspecies of Pararge aegeria (L.) (Lep., Satyridae) and an aberration of Cupido minimus (Fuessly) (Lep., Lycaenidae). Entomologist's Gazette.
Howarth (1973) Howarth, T.G. (1973) South's British Butterflies.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Morris (1853) Morris, Rev.F.O. (1853) A History of British Butterflies.
Petiver (1702-1706) Petiver, J. (1702-1706) Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas prima.
Rafinesque (1815) Rafinesque, C.S. (1815) Analyse de la nature ou Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés.
Thompson (1952) Thompson, J.A. (1952) Butterflies in the Coastal Region of North Wales. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Thomson (1980) Thomson, G. (1980) The Butterflies of Scotland.
Wilkes (1749) Wilkes, B. (1749) The English moths and butterflies: together with the plants, flowers and fruits whereon they feed, and are usually found.