Butterflies and Woodlands

Butterflies and Woodlands

Butterfly Conservation has just launched a £900,000 conservation scheme to encourage better woodland management for butterflies in the South-East.

Numbers of woodland butterflies have fallen by anything from 38% (the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary) to a huge 72% for the Wood White over the last 30 years. All butterflies had a difficult year last year with the very wet weather, but Butterfly Conservation are making a particular appeal for landowners to consider how they manage woodland to encourage now rare woodland species. Dark, overgrown woods don’t attract sun-loving butterflies, and dense undergrowth suppresses the plants and flowers which caterpillars and butterflies rely on for food. Of course, this has a knock-on effect on woodland birds which feed on the caterpillars and butterflies.

peacockHow Can You Encourage Butterflies In Your Woodland?

Traditional forms of broadleaf woodland management such as coppicing which create an open structure, and sunny, well-maintained rides and clearings suit butterfly populations best.

Butterfly Conservation is encouraging good management by demonstrating it in practice in their woods in the South-East. They are also working in tandem with the Forestry Commission to create butterfly-friendly areas and target grants towards butterfly conservation. A useful series of leaflets with advice on land management for butterflies and moths, including one prepared by the Herefordshire branch of Butterfly Conservation on woodland, is available on their website. In brief, they advise a mix of sunny and shaded areas, with open rides connected by “junctions” which to create routes by which butterflies can populate the wood. Staggered cutting of ride edges gives one area a chance to recover while you tackle the next.

Which Woodland Butterflies Are Rare?

Butterfly Conservation’s “hit list” includes the:

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Perhaps have a look at the butterfly chart here – the big butterfly count starts today


18 July, 2015

Hi. I saw quite a few large orangey red butterflies in our local woods. They are about 2-3 inches wide, fly very fast and high, and seem to attack the woodland white butterflies. Any ideas please

Patricia Langridge

18 July, 2015

Great Post :D
thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly’s tale~
Bright Blessings
elf ~

celestial elf

22 April, 2011

At the end of July (2010), there is the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT – see


19 July, 2010

We have had our local Butterfly conservation man in our woods to offer advice and it is well worth it. Very helpful. We have seen some white admirals in our wood too! There are lot of posts on butterflies in our blog

Getting light to the ground is the key thing we keep being told!

Tracy Pepler

15 July, 2008