Females of the Meadow Brown are unusual as they are more distinctive than the male and are probably one of Britains Commonest Butteflies/.The females eyes stand out against strongly against the large orange patches on the upper wing side . The male is smaller and darker with a less prminent eyes. Like all Browns they have only 4 walking legs.They are seen in upland and lowland meadow and often fly on dull even wet or overcast days
Medium sized: wingspan 50-55 mm.
Males are a dark dusky, or even velvety, brown on the upper surfaces of their wings with a vague, lighter patch towards the outside of the fore wings. There is single dark brown eyespot with a white pupil towards the tip of the forewings surrounded by a small brown halo.
Females have a warmer brown ground colour on their upper surfaces with a dull orange-brown, broken patch towards the outside of the forewings. There is a prominent black eyespot with a single white pupil towards the tip of the forewings.
The Meadow Brown is the most abundant butterfly species in many habitats. Hundreds may be seen together at some sites, flying low over the vegetation. Adults fly even in dull weather when most other butterflies are inactive.
Regional variations in the spotting pattern on the wings have led to it being studied extensively by geneticists over many years. Larger forms occur in Ireland and the north of Scotland.
It is one of our most widespread species, but many colonies have been lost due to agricultural intensification.
Behaviour and life history
The Meadow Brown is to be found anywhere where there is rough grassland and appears to be always on the move even during dull weather. It forms discrete does not wander far from them with the males constantly searching out females. Eggs are laid over a prolonged period between July and September on a variety of grasses. The young caterpillars emerges shortly afterwards, overwinters in grass tussocks before completing its development and pupating in late May or June. Adults emerge in late June or July.
Where to look for it
The Meadow Brown is probably the most common and widespread butterfly and is to be found wherever there is grassland which is not repeatedly mown. It is particularly common in fields, along hedgerows and lanes as well as within in woodlands wherever there are breaks in the tree canopy which let sunlight through. It is present in all of the citys Local Nature Reserves.
Distribution and status
Very common and widespread.
When to look for it
It is most plentiful in late June,July and August.
It is most likely to be confused with the Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus. However, the Meadow Brown never has an orange-brown patch or eyespot on its hind wing and typically has a single, not double, white pupil in the eyespot on its forewing.