Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Back To (Linnaeus (1758)
JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Medium sized: wingspan, c. 50 mm.
Male: 46 - 52mm
Female: 48 - 56mm
Both sexes are a dark brown on the upper surfaces of both sets of wings which are patterned with creamish to pale yellow spots. There is a black eye with a small white pupil in a cream spot towards the tip of the forewings and three similar eyespots along the trailing margin of the hind wings. The wing edges are feathered white with small brown interruptions. The undersides of the wings are a paler grey-brown with darker brown and cream chequering on the forewings and irregular dark edged brown bars on the hind wings. The eyes spots of the upper surfaces of the wings are reflected by white-pupilled black eyespots on the lower surfaces of the wings.
The butterfly forms a North South "Cline" , where morphological individuals in the north are dark brown with white spots, whilst specimens located from the south dark brown with orange spots. This has given rise to a number of subspecies. Examples of typical location shown below
Pararge aegeria ssp. aegeria Southern Europe and Mauritania)
Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis Germany
Pararge aegeria ssp. oblita Isle of Rhum, Scotland
Pararge aegeria ssp. insula Isles of Scilly, England
It is really only likely to be confused with the Wall butterfly, Lasiommata megera. The Speckled Wood has creamy patterning whilst the Wall has bright orange-brown patterning and, whereas the former prefers dappled shade, the latter shows a distinct liking for full sunlight.
The Speckled Wood is commonly seen patrolling sunny glades in woodlands and hedgerows where it aggressively defends its territory against not only rival males but, it would seem, anything else that can fly. It frequents a number of perches within its territory that coincide with the movement of the suns rays throughout the day. This species normally has three broods a year with the first brood adults emerging in late March and April. These are succeeded with a second brood that peaks in June and, finally, a third brood emerges in August and September. The caterpillars feed on grasses, principallyFalse Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum); Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata); Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus); Common Couch (Elytrigia repens). and the butterfly overwinters as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis.
This species is unique among the British butterflies as it can overwinter in 2 stages, both aa a larva and pupa. Consequwntly this strategy accounts for , 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, subject to weather conditions and location .Adults of later generations are generally darker than those emerging earlier in the year.