Small Tortoiseshell

We’ve seen these fluttering around the buildings and grounds at Compton Verney for the last few days, but they’ve always moved away before a clear identification could be managed. Today however one of the little beauties found its way indoors, and a rescue attempt was launched by one of our security team to set the butterfly free – just when I happened to be passing.


This was the only good image as it was still a little camera shy, but at least helps us to get an initial identification as a Small Tortoiseshell, or Aglais urticae.

Caught indoors and released to safety… but doesn’t it look like he/she is looking right at me?!

What’s interesting about the species information is that the caterpillars live mainly on nettles, which is why we hold on to quite a few patches around the grounds at Compton Verney – honest! Seriously, we do have a number of nettle patches that we keep specifically for wildlife habitat, and it’s really great to make this small but significant connection between a dull patch of nettles and this beautiful butterfly.

Link to UK Butterflies information about Small Tortoiseshell

I live in hope of getting around the grounds to photograph more butterflies, as the hot weather has brought so many out just now. Do remember of course that if you visit and snap a close up of a butterfly, you’re welcome to contact us with an image or two for identification – we love an excuse to rumage through the wildlife books!

Or of course you can tweet us your image to @comptonverney using #CVGrounds

0 thoughts on “Small Tortoiseshell

  1. We visited the meadow a couple of weeks ago and the butterflies were such a delight. There were lots of butterflies with relatively big, dark, furry bodies and narrow vivid-red wings. We couldn’t catch them on camera but do you know what they are called?

    1. Thanks for the question, & hope you enjoyed your visit. The meadow has since received its annual cut and I’m surprised to say the butterflies are stronger than ever!

      In answer to your question, they could possibly have been the day flying moths called Six Spot Burnet, we have lots of these and they pause on grass stems with their wings tightly closed, not like a typical butterfly. There is a photo of one in the flora/fauna category of this blog if that helps.

      Thanks again for the question, & if you’re able to visit again, do check out the west lawn, behind the mansion, as this is teaming with butterflies (longer established wildflowers than the park!)


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