Aglais urticae

Small Tortoiseshell

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: urticae

Vaud, Switzerland, June 2011

Photo: urticae

Vaud, Switzerland, March/ April 2010

Field notes and information

One of the best known butterflies in Europe. It is widespread and common, although appears to be suffering from a serious reduction in numbers in the UK that started in the mid to late 2000s.

Identification & Similar species: The bright orange upperside ground colour, dark basal area on the hindwing, pale patches along the forewing costa and its smaller size help separate it from the much less frequent large tortoiseshells Nymphalis species.

On Corsica and Sardinia, it is replaced by the taxon ichnusa. This is now often considered a full species, although doubts remain as bred specimens revert to the more typical formurticae. It is separated by distribution and reduced upperside black markings in the basal area of the hindwing and two discal spots on the forewing.

Distribution & Flight: All Europe. Not north Africa.

Habitat & Behaviour: Very diverse habitats. An avid feeder, it will take nectar from flowers wherever they are found frequently in gardens and towns.

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Jura, France, July 2006

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Valais, Switzerland, May 2014

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Isère, France, July 2013

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2014

Different colour forms.

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Valais, Switzerland, April 2011

Laying eggs on young growth of stinging nettle Urtica dioica.

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2015

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2014

Larval tent.

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Valais, Switzerland, March 2012

Rarely seen courtship.

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Valais, Switzerland, March 2012

The silk forming the larval nest can be seen.

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SW Serbia, June 2012

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Vaud, Switzerland, April 2009

Pupation underway.

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Valais, Switzerland, April 2008

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2012

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Valais, Switzerland, August 2012