Medium sized: wingspan, c. 50 mm.
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.
Behaviour and life history
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, principally Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) and the butterfly overwinters as either a caterpillar or a chrysalis.
Where to look for it
This is essentially a species of interrupted shade that favours woodland rides and glades, hedgerows and lanes. It is to be found almost anywhere in the citys Local Nature Reserves, parks and gardens.
Distribution and status
Common and widespread
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.