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Small Tortoiseshell, Wiggonholt (31 August 2011)
Wingspan
Male: 45 - 55mm
Female: 52 - 62mm
Photo © Mark Colvin
Small Tortoiseshell

Aglais urticae
ag-LAR-iss
ur-TY-see
Number: 59.027
B&F No.: 1593
Family:Nymphalidae (Swainson, 1827)
Subfamily:Nymphalinae (Swainson, 1827)
Tribe:Nymphalini (Swainson, 1827)
Genus:Aglais (Dalman, 1816)
Subgenus: 
Species:urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)
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  Introduction  

The Small Tortoiseshell is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the British Isles. Unfortunately, this butterfly has suffered a worrying decline, especially in the south, over the last few years. This butterfly has always fluctuated in numbers, but the cause of the most-recent decline is not yet known, although various theories have been proposed. One is the increasing presence of a particular parasitic fly, Sturmia bella, due to global warming - this species being common on the continent. The fly lays its eggs on leaves of the foodplant, close to where larvae are feeding. The tiny eggs are then eaten whole by the larvae and the grubs that emerge feed on the insides of their host, avoiding the vital organs. A fly grub eventually kills its host and emerges from either the fully-grown larva or pupa before itself pupating. Although the fly attacks related species, such as the Peacock and Red Admiral, it is believed that the lifecycle of the Small Tortoiseshell is better-synchronised with that of the fly and it is therefore more prone to parasitism. This is one of our most widespread butterflies, occurring throughout the British Isles, including Orkney and Shetland.

Aglais urticae

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden).


Small Tortoiseshell -  Cornwall Coast Path 12-Sept-2013
Male
Photo © Neil Hulme
Small Tortoiseshell - Chaldon, Surrey 14-June-09
Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo
Small Tortoiseshell - Ferring Rife, Sussex 22-April-2013
Female
Photo © Neil Hulme
Small Tortoiseshell ovipositing - Coulsdon, Surrey 14-July-2013
Female Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

  Phenology  

The adult butterflies can be seen at any time of the year, even on the last days of December or first days of January if the temperature is high enough to wake them from hibernation. However, adults normally emerge from hibernation at the end of March and start of April. There are typically 2 broods each year, except in the north, where there is usually only a single brood. Whether single or double-brooded, the butterfly is a familiar sight in late summer as it takes nectar to build up essential fats in preparation for hibernation.


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.


  Habitat  

This butterfly can turn up almost anywhere, from city centres to mountain tops. As such, it is one of our most successful butterflies. It is most-often seen, however, where nettles grow in abundance, such as field margins. This butterfly is often encountered while hibernating in an outbuilding, such as a garage, shed or barn, where they may be found in the company of other individuals. Other hibernation sites include hollow trees and wood piles.

  Larval Foodplants  

The primary larval foodplants are Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Small Nettle (Urtica urens).

  Nectar Sources  

Adults feed primarily on Betony (Stachys officinalis), Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Carline Thistle (Carlina vulgaris), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Heather (Calluna vulgaris / Erica spp.), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Ivy (Hedera helix), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Primrose (Primula vulgaris), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica).

  Imago  

The two sexes are almost identical in appearance, with the distinctive yellow and orange uppersides providing a contrast with the drab undersides that provide the butterfly a good deal of camouflage when hibernating.

In the afternoon, males set up territories, usually close to a nettle patch, where they rest of the foodplant or ground with their wings open, waiting for a passing female. When a female enters the territory, a most curious courtship begins. The male approaches the female from behind and starts to "drum" his antennae on the hindwings of the female, making a feint sound that is audible to the human ear. The female may fly a little distance, with the male following, where the process repeats. This can go on for several hours with the couple spending a good amount of time basking together. Eventually, usually in early evening, the female will lead the male into vegetation, often a nettle patch, and crawl between stems with the male following, where they eventually mate. They remain coupled until the following morning.


Small Tortoiseshell - Caterham, Surrey 26-June-05
Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Jun-2005
Small Tortoiseshell - Chaldon, Surrey 14-June-09
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jun-2009
Small Tortoiseshell - Steep Down, Sompting, Sussex  3-April-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
03-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - Stockbridge Down - 28-Jun-04
Photo © Pete Eeles
28-Jun-2004
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - Quarndon, Derby - Apr-04 [Mark Nowak]
Photo © Mark Nowak
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - Bridport - 07-Jun-09 [Jules Cross]
Photo © Jules Cross
07-Jun-2009
Small Tortoiseshell female egglaying - East Lothian, Scotland 8-June-2011
Photo © NickMorgan
egglaying
Small Tortoiseshell Female - Chaldon, Surrey 13-April-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Apr-2010
Small Tortoiseshells mating [Richard Roebuck]
Photo © Richard Roebuck
Small Tortoiseshell, Chantry Hill (9 August 2011)
Photo © Mark Colvin
09-Aug-2011
Small Tortoiseshell, Wiggonholt (31 August 2011)
Photo © Mark Colvin
31-Aug-2011
Small Tortoiseshell - Addington, Surrey 15-March-12
Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Mar-2012
Small Tortoiseshell, Brompton Ralph, Somerset, 16-09-09
Photo © Lee Hurrell
Small Tortoiseshell underside - Five Rivers - 26 August 2012
Photo © Wurzel
Small Tortoiseshell - Wiltshire 8-Sept-2012
Photo © ChrisC
08-Sep-2012
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - East Lulworth - 22-Sep-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Tortoiseshell - Ferring Rife, Sussex 22-April-2013
Photo © Neil Hulme
22-Apr-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ovapositing. Littlington, Sussex. 5/7/2013
Photo © badgerbob
05-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - 2 females competing for same leaf, Old Winchester Hill, Hamps. 07/07/2013
Photo © Pauline
07-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ovipositing - Coulsdon, Surrey 14-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jul-2013
Female Small Tortoiseshell and Male Meadow Brown pairing - Brentwood, Essex 14-July-2013
Photo © Essex Bertie
14-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - male - Calstone and Cherhill Downs - 27-Aug-13
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - male - Calstone and Cherhill Downs - 27-Aug-13-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell newly hatched - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell -  Cornwall Coast Path 12-Sept-2013
Photo © Neil Hulme
09-Sep-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Lavernock Point Nr Penarth South Wales 25-Sept-2013
Photo © New Era51
Small Tortoiseshell - Somerset - 07/08/13
Photo © William
07-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell. 7/7/2013. Seaford, East Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
07-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - Ferring Rife, Sussex 6-Mar-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
06-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - Ferring Rife, Sussex 9-Mar-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
09-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - Ferring Rife, Sussex 9-Mar-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
09-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - Castle Hills Solihull 29.03.2013
Photo © nfreem
29-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell on early cherry-plum blossom - Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge - 17 03 2014
Photo © NickB
17-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - Somerset - 31/03/14
Photo © William
30-Mar-2014
3 Female Small Tortoiseshell laying eggs together. Arlington. E.Sussex. 9/4/2014.
Photo © badgerbob
09-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell egg laying. 9/4/2014. Arlington, E.Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
09-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock ovipositing - Hylands Park, nr Chelmsford 9-April-2014
Photo © essexbuzzard
Small Tortoiseshell (Female) Pairing with Meadow Brown (Male) - Collard Hill - Somerset - 23/06/14
Photo © William
23-Jun-2014

  Aberrations  

This species displays considerable variation in both the upperside ground colour and the familiar upperside pattern and markings.

Much work has been carried out in this species to discover how temperature shock in the late larval/ early pupal stage can affect the development of pigments in the imago. These experiments have assisted our understanding of how and when the pigments are 'mapped' in the Vanessid butterflies. The Small Tortoiseshell appears to be particularly sensitive to temperature shock, and this species has been widely bred in the past in the hope of producing extreme environmentally controlled aberrations such as ab. semi-ichnusoides.

Extreme shocks of either heat or cold during the last 24 hours of the larval stage and the first 48 hours of the pupal stage can disrupt the natural process of metamorphosis and inhibit the normal processes in which organic chemicals create the colouration of the wing scales.

The expression of aberration through temperature shock is a graduated process; one level of exposure creates ab. semi-ichnusoides, a little more fuses all three black blotches along the costa of the forewing to create ab. conjuncta, and the most extreme exposure produces an almost entirely melanic form known as ab. osborni. The conditions required to produce the latter forms are thought to be so extreme that they lie right on the very cusp of extremes of temperature that would be fatal to the larva or pupa. Consequently these forms are rare in captivity and extremely unlikely to be met with in the wild.

It is difficult to ascertain how frequently any of these aberration occur in the wild, however it is a rare event that exposes the newly formed pupa or transitional larva to the necessary conditions for metamorphosis to be disrupted in this way, and this is supported by the paucity of historical sightings of the extreme aberrations in the wild. That is not to say that the lesser of the aberrations do not occur however, and an ab. semi-ichnusoides presents a particularly striking sight when nectaring on a garden buddleia amongst typical individuals.

It has been speculated that severe late frosts could possibly cause instances of these aberrant forms, as well as a larva/pupa being exposed to particularly strong sunlight after having the normally sheltered pupation site disturbed in some manner.

Environmental influences are not the sole cause of aberration in this species however, and there are many genetic aberrations which the observer could encounter at any time. Occasionally the orange ground colour is replaced entirely by a pale whitish buff (ab. lutea), as well as various transitional shades leading to this. Similarly, sometimes the orange colour is replaced by a brownish-purple hue and this is known as ab. brunneoviolacea.

There are in excess of 105 named aberrations known to occur in Britain.

Click here to see a full list of aberrations for this species.

Unclassified Aberrations


Small Tortoiseshell (pale form) - Crawley, Sussex 12-June-07
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2007
Small Tortoiseshells up a Catkin Tree
Photo © Charles Nicol
Small Tortoiseshell (pale form) - Crawley, Sussex 7-June-07
Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Jun-2007
Small Tortoiseshell (pale form) - Crawley, Sussex 12-June-07
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2007
Small Tortoiseshell ab. - Wiltshire 13 June 2009
Photo © Jack Harrison
Small Tortoiseshell, Ferring Rife, 5 June 2009
Photo © Neil Hulme
05-Jun-2009
small tortoiseshell aberration flavotesselata  becton bunny barton on sea.
Photo © geniculata
20-Jun-2010
small tortoiseshell aberration ichnusiodes, picos de europa, tudes .
Photo © geniculata
14-Jun-2010
IMG 7110-1
Photo © mrbuffalotree
01-Aug-2010
Small Tortoiseshell (Dark Border ab.) - Chaldon, Surrey 14-June-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jun-2011
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - Polegate, East Sussex - 15-Aug-2006 [Peter Farrant]
Photo © Peter Farrant
Small Tortoiseshell - imago - Polegate, East Sussex - 15-Aug-2006-2 [Peter Farrant]
Photo © Peter Farrant
Small Tortoiseshell female (pale ab.) - Sussex 27-June-2013 [Richard Roebuck]
Photo © Richard Roebuck
27-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell female (pale ab.) - Sussex 27-June-2013 [Richard Roebuck]
Photo © Richard Roebuck
27-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ab. semi-ichnusoides (Rushden, Northants 15-July-2013)
Photo © neil
15-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (ab.alba) 18.8.13 East Sussex. Downland boy
Photo © downland boy
any yellow/amber pigment has been replaced by white
18-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (transitional form of ab. semi-ichnusoides) 16.9.08  East Sussex. Downland boy
Photo © downland boy
16-Sep-2008
Small Tortoiseshell (dark ab.) - Caterham, Surrey 29-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - Pale Form - Somerset - 30/08/13
Photo © William
30-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (ab.) - Edington, Wiltshire 25-Aug-2013 [Tim Tapley]
Photo © Tim Tapley
25-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - Somerset - 28/03/14
Photo © William
Small Tortoiseshell, pale ab. - Solihull West Midlands 18.04.2014
Photo © nfreem
18-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - Solihull West Midlands 30.07.2014
Photo © nfreem
30-Jul-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - aberration - Clareview Leisure Park, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland - 24-Jul-14 [Sophie Allen]
Photo © Sophie Allen

ab. nigrita (Fickert)

On the forewings the two upper black costal spots are united to form a single black blotch. The twin discal spots are absent. Hindwings entirely black with no marginal lunules.


Small Tortoiseshell (ab. nigrita) - Southwater Wood, Sussex 1-July-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Jul-2010
ab. nigrita
Photo © Neil Hulme
02-Jul-2010
ab. nigrita
Photo © Neil Hulme
02-Jul-2010
Small Tortoiseshell (ab. nigrita) - Southwater Wood, Sussex 1-July-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Jul-2010
Small Tortoiseshell (ab. nigrita) - Southwater Wood, Sussex 1-July-10
Photo © Vince Massimo

  Ovum  

The female is quite choosy about where she lays, which is not surprising since she lays her green eggs in large batches and needs to ensure that the location is just right for the developing larvae. Typical sites are nettle patches containing relatively-new growth, and that receive full sun. Eggs are laid on the underside of a nettle leaf, usually one near the top of the stem and at the edge of the nettle patch. The eggs are not laid in neat rows, but piled on top of one another. Egg batches can contain up to 80 eggs which take some time to lay - typically between 20 and 90 minutes. The egg stage lasts between 1 and 3 weeks, depending on the weather.


Small Tortiseshell ovum, East Lothian
Photo © NickMorgan
Small Tortoiseshell ova - Steep Down, Sompting, Sussex  3-April-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
03-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell Ova - Somerset - 29/06/13
Photo © William
29-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Coulsdon, Surrey - 09-May-13
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Tortoiseshell ova - Coulsdon, Surrey 2-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ova - Coulsdon, Surrey 2-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ova. Littlington, Sussex. 5/7/2013
Photo © badgerbob
05-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell egg batches - Coulsdon, Surrey 14-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell egg batches - Coulsdon, Surrey 14-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ova - Coulsdon, Surrey 9-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell ova (1 day before hatching) - Coulsdon, Surrey 20-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell eggs - Ferring Rife, Sussex 17-Mar-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
17-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell ova. 29/3/2014. Seaford. E.Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
29-Mar-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Cumnor, Oxford - 25-Apr-14-8
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Cumnor, Oxford - 25-Apr-14-10
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Cumnor, Oxford - 25-Apr-14-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Cumnor, Oxford - 25-Apr-14-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Apr-2014
Small Tortoiseshell - ovum - Cumnor, Oxford - 25-Apr-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Apr-2014

  Larva  

On emerging from their eggs, the larvae build a communal web, usually at the top of the nettle, from which they emerge to bask and feed. As the larvae grow, they move to new plants, building new webs along the way. This leaves a trail of webs, decorated with shed larval skins and droppings, that show the passing of time, and allows the patient observer to trace the larvae all the way back to the plant where the eggs were laid. The first experience that some people have of a Small Tortoiseshell is seeing these webs as they extend over stretches of nettle, with the larvae resting communally and quite visibly on the surface of the web, or feeding from nearby leaves.

Larvae have several techniques to avoid predation. When disturbed, a group of larvae will often jerk their bodies from side to side in unison, which must be a formidable sight to any predator. The larvae will also regurgitate green fluid and will, if necessary, curl up in a ball and drop to the ground. Larvae feed by both day and night and there are 4 moults in total.


Small Tortoiseshell larva on hatching, East Lothian
Photo © NickMorgan
Small Tortoiseshell Larval Web - Outwood, Surrey 31-May-09
Photo © Vince Massimo
Small Tortoiseshell Larva - Danebury Ring - 31-7-09
Photo © Gwenhwyfar
31-Jul-2009
Small Tortoiseshell Larvae - Danebury Ring - 31-7-09
Photo © Gwenhwyfar
31-Jul-2009
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Bucklebury - 13-Aug-06 (0680)
Photo © Pete Eeles
13-Aug-2006
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Bucklebury - 13-Aug-06 (0828)
Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Aug-2006
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Noar Hill - 30-Jul-04
Photo © Pete Eeles
30-Jul-2004
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Thatcham - 22-Jul-07
Photo © Pete Eeles
22-Jul-2007
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Thatcham - 11-Aug-09 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-Aug-2009
Small Tortoiseshell - larva - Ashford Hill NNR - Uknown date [Tim Norriss]
Photo © Tim Norriss
Small Tortoiseshell pre-pupa and Pteromalus.
Photo © Mikhail
The Pteromalus wasp is waiting for the larva to shed its skin, when it will pump its eggs into the newly formed pupa before it hardens.
Small Tortoiseshell larvae - East Lothian, Scotland 7-June-2012
Photo © NickMorgan
Small Tortoiseshell larvae - East Lothian, Scotland 7-June-2012
Photo © NickMorgan
Small Tortoiseshell Larvae - First Instar - Somerset - 08/06/13
Photo © William
08-Jun-2013
parasitic wasp infesting Small Tortoiseshell lavae,Harlow,Essex July 2013
Photo © essexbuzzard
Parasitic wasp infesting Small Tortoiseshell larvae
28-Jul-2013
Parasitic Fly (Phryxe vulgaris or Phryxe nemea) - Caterham, Surrey 8-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jul-2013
Parasitic Fly (Phryxe vulgaris or Phryxe nemea) - Caterham, Surrey 8-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jul-2013
Pupa of Parasitic Fly (Phryxe vulgaris or Phryxe nemea) - Caterham, Surrey 27-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Jun-2013
Pupa of parasitic fly (likely Sturmia bella) - Caterham, Surrey 18-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Jun-2013
Pupa of parasitic fly (likely Sturmia bella) - Caterham, Surrey 18-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae hatching - Coulsdon, Surrey 16-July-2103
Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (newly emerged) - Caterham, Surrey 20-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
20-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (3 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 22-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (8 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 27-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (3rd instar) - Coulsdon, Surrey 4-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (2nd instar) - Coulsdon, Surrey 31-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
31-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (2nd instar) - Coulsdon, Surrey 31-May-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
31-May-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (3rd instar) - Coulsdon, Surrey 31-May-2012
Photo © Vince Massimo
31-May-2012
Small Tortoiseshell larvae (4th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 5-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva (4th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 6-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (4th instar larval tent) - Caterham, Surrey 8-June-2012
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jun-2012
Small Tortoiseshell (4th instar moulting tents) - Coulsdon, Surrey 9-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (post-moult larva) - Caterham, Surrey 9-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (pre-moult larva) - Caterham, Surrey 8-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (post-moult larva) - Caterham, Surrey 9-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (pre-moult larva) - Caterham, Surrey 8-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva - Coulsdon, Surrey 9-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva preparing to pupate - Caterham, Surrey 12-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell larva preparing to pupate - Caterham, Surrey 12-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Larva - Somerset - 23/07/13
Photo © William
23-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Larvae - Somerset - 09/08/13
Photo © William
09-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Larvae - Somerset - 24/07/13
Photo © William
24-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Larvae - Bishopstone - East Sussex - 29th-April-2014
Photo © Butterflysaurus rex
Small Tortoiseshell larvae - Solihull West Midlands 10.05.2014
Photo © nfreem
10-May-2014

  Pupa  

The larvae disperse as they become fully grown, and eventually wander off to find a suitable pupation site. The pupa is formed head down, attached to a stem or leaf by the cremaster. The colour of the pupa is quite variable, often having a beautiful metallic sheen. This stage lasts between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on temperature.


Small Tortoiseshell - pupa - Thatcham - 30-May-09 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
30-May-2009
Small Tortoiseshell - pupa - Unknown location - 30-May-05 [REARED] [Matt Berry]
Photo © Matt Berry
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (parasitised) - Essex 20-Aug-2013
Photo © roundwood123
20-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (with emerging parasitic wasps) - Essex 19-Aug-2013
Photo © roundwood123
19-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (likely parsitised by Sturmia bella) - Caterham. Surrey 27-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 16-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 16-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 16-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (1 hour old) - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell (fresh pupa) - Caterham, Surrey 13-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 22-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 22-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 22-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 22-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa - Caterham, Surrey 22-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Jun-2013
Small Tortoiseshell hatching - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell hatching - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell hatching - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell hatching - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
Small Tortoiseshell hatching - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (2 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 3-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (19 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 2-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (20 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 2-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (21 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 2-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell pupa (27 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 2-July-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jul-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Pupa (about a day before emergence) - Somerset - 08/08/13
Photo © William
08-Aug-2013
Small Tortoiseshell Pupa - Somerset - 03/08/13
Photo © William
03-Aug-2013

  Similar Species  

Large Tortoiseshell

Description to be completed.

  Videos  

Video © MrIAC67
Small Tortoiseshell
Video © Paul Wetton
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Video © Paul Dinning
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

  Sites  

Click here to see the distribution of this species overlaid with specific site information. Alternatively, select one of the sites listed below.

Sites
Arthur's Seat, Bedfont Lakes Country Park LNR, Bryncelyn Hall, Darley, Devil's Ditch, Dundas Castle, Eakring Meadows Nature Reserve, Glenarm, Horsenden Hill, Hounslow Heath LNR, Howardian Local Nature Reserve, Hutton Roof Crags, Hyde, Kenfig Pool, Kinghorn Loch Path, Lavernock, Mansmead wood, Mayford Pond, Meanwood Park, Moss Field, Mynydd Marian, Old Down, Basingstoke, Rookery, Ryton Woods Meadows, Sutton Bingham Reservoir, Tophill Low, Viking Field/LesleySears, West Williamston Salt Marshes, Winkleigh, Winsdon Hill

  Conservation Status  

Despite being a widespread and common species in certain areas, the declining fortunes of this butterfly, especially in the south, mean that this butterfly is a species of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusDistribution Trend (%)Population Trend (%)
Not ListedStable-3Large Decrease-64

The table above shows the distribution and population trends of species regularly found in the British Isles. The distribution trend represents a comparison between data for the periods 1995-1999 and 2005-2009. The information provided is taken from the Butterfly Conservation report The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011. The UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).


  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C.: Systema Naturae. Edn.10. 1758.

  Copyright © Peter Eeles 2002-2014
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