Wall

Lasiommata megera (LASS-ee-oh-may-tuh muh-JEE-ruh)

Wall Brown male. 27/5/2013. Seaford. Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
 

Wingspan
45 - 53mm

Checklist Number
59.002

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:SatyrinaeBoisduval, 1833
Tribe:ElymniiniHerrich-Schäffer, 1864
Genus:LasiommataWestwood, 1841
Subgenus:  
Species:megera(Linnaeus, 1767)

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Introduction

The Wall gets its name from the characteristic behaviour of resting with wings two-thirds open on any bare surface, including bare ground and, of course, walls! Many people will have come across this butterfly on footpaths, especially in coastal areas, where the butterfly flies up when disturbed, before setting again a few metres ahead.

The basking behaviour of this butterfly allows it to benefit from the full warmth of the sun whose rays shine directly on the butterfly, but also get reflected back onto the butterfly from whichever surface it is resting on. This habit allows the butterfly to raise its body temperature sufficiently high for it to fly. In particularly hot weather, however, such basking is avoided and the butterfly may even retreat to a suitably-shaded spot to avoid overheating.

This species was once found throughout England, Wales, Ireland and parts of Scotland. Today, however, is a very different picture, with this species suffering severe declines over the last several decades. It is now confined to primarily-coastal regions and has been lost from many sites in central, eastern and south-east England. In Scotland it is confined to coastal areas in the south-west of the country. It is also found on the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. This butterfly is found in relatively small colonies that are self-contained although some individuals will wander, allowing the species to quickly colonise suitable nearby sites.

Taxonomy Notes

Ball (1914) uses the name f. filipluma to describe specimens of the summer generation, differentiated by their scale formation.

Verity (1911a) uses the name ssp. caledonia to describe the race from Scotland which, he says, differ in the width and intensity of the black markings and very broad marginal band. The base of the hindwing being entirely blackened.

Lasiommata megera

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1767) as shown here (type locality: Austria and Denmark).

Wall male (3rd brood) - Mill Hill, Sussex 23-Sept-2014

Male
Photo © Neil Hulme

Wall Brown, male. Seaford, East Sussex. 24/5/2012.

Male Underside
Photo © badgerbob

Wall female (3rd brood) - Mill Hill, Sussex 25-Sept-2014

Female
Photo © Neil Hulme

Mating Wall. 3rd brood. Seaford. 23/9/2011.

Female Underside
Photo © badgerbob

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Conservation Status

There has been a severe and worrying decline of inland populations, with most remaining populations now being found in coastal areas. This species is therefore a priority for conservation efforts.

UK BAP StatusDistribution Trend (%)Population Trend (%)
Priority Species
Click here to access the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for this species.
Decrease-21
Decrease-37

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).

Habitat

This species is now found primarily in coastal areas, especially unimproved grassland, wasteland, cliff edges 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

The first generation of adults emerge in early May, peaking at the end of May and early June, or a little later in the north of England and Scotland. They give rise to a second brood that emerges at the end of July, or mid-August further north. There are 2 generations each year and, on occasion, a small 3rd generation may appear in October.

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

The male of this species is territorial and will inhabit a particular area, such as a path, hedgerow or roadside verge, waiting for a passing female. Males will typically perch in a favoured position but will, in sunny and warm conditions, adopt a strategy of patrolling in order to find a mate. All passing insects are investigated and rival males will fly high into the air before coming back to the ground a few seconds later.

The female is much more sedentary and the less-conspicuous of the two sexes. After a brief courtship a pair will mate before disappearing into surrounding vegetation. Both sexes are avid nectar feeders and will feed from any available flower.

Adults feed primarily on Daisy (Bellis perennis), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

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Ovum

The spherical eggs are laid singly, or occasionally in twos and threes, in various positions, including the leaves of the foodplant, exposed roots and nearby vegetation. Eggs are pale green when first laid, becoming more translucent as the larva develops within. Sites for egg-laying are typically sheltered and warm compared to their surroundings, and include grass clumps, rabbit scrapes and hoof prints from cattle. This stage lasts around 10 days.

Wall Brown ova. 9/8/2014. Seaford. East Sussex.

Photo © badgerbob
09-Aug-2014

Wall Brown ova. High and Over, Seaford. E. Sussex 28/8/2013.

Photo © badgerbob
28-Aug-2013

Wall Brown ova. 1/9/2013. High and Over, Seaford. E.Sussex.

Photo © badgerbob
01-Sep-2013

Wall - ovum - Unknown location - 2004 (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

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Larva

After emerging, the young larva typically eats its eggshell before feeding on the leaves of the foodplant. Larvae become more mobile as they mature and will move from plant to plant as needed. Larvae typically feed at night, but occasionally feed during the day. This stage lasts around 4 weeks for those larvae that do not overwinter, and there are 3 moults in total.

The primary larval foodplants are Bents (various) (Agrostis spp.), Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum), Wavy Hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) and Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus).

Wall - larva - Unknown location - 2004 (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Wall - larva - Thatcham - 24-Apr-05 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Apr-2005

Wall Brown larva. Seaford, East Sussex. 6/3/2015.

Photo © badgerbob

Wall Brown larva. 18/3/2013. High and Over, Seaford.

Photo © badgerbob
18-Mar-2013

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Pupa

The green pupa is formed head down, attached by the cremaster to the foodplant or nearby vegetation and is extremely well camouflaged. This stage lasts around 2 weeks.

Wall - pupa - Thatcham - 24-Apr-05 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Apr-2005

Wall - pupa - Unknown location - 2004 (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Wall Brown pupa. 12/4/2014. Seaford. East Sussex.

Photo © badgerbob
12-Apr-2014

Wall pupa. High and Over, Sussex 20/4/2012.

Photo © badgerbob
20-Apr-2012

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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
Ball (1914) Ball, F.J. (1914) Le Dimorphisme Saisonnier des Androcinia Chez Certains Rhopalocères. Annales de la Société entomologique de Belgique.
Boisduval (1833) Boisduval, J.A. (1833) Icones historiques des Lépidoptères d'Europe nouveaux.
Herrich-Schäffer (1864) Herrich-Schäffer, G.A.W. (1864) Prodromus Systematis Lepidopterorum. Versuch einer systematischen Anordnung der Schmetterlinge.
Linnaeus (1767) Linnaeus, C. (1767) Systema Naturae. Edition 12.
Rafinesque (1815) Rafinesque, C.S. (1815) Analyse de la nature ou Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés.
Verity (1911a) Verity, R. (1911) Races inédites de Satyridae européens [Lep. Rhopalocera]. Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France.
Westwood (1841) Westwood, J.O. (1841) British Butterflies and their Transformations.