Home The Butterflies of Gloucestershire Species Habitats Conservation

Small Tortoiseshell

Aglais urticae
2 September 1979 Female laying eggs, 11 July 1982


The Small Tortoiseshell uses Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) as its larval foodplant, in town and countryside situations. It may be seen almost anywhere, and large numbers are sometimes reported taking nectar from flowers in gardens or parks.

Of the species which hibernate as adult butterflies, the Small Tortoiseshell is the one most likely to be encountered in houses, garages and other outbuildings during the autumn and winter.

Conservation Issues

None - the Small Tortoiseshell is one of Britain's commonest butterflies. Its population can also be increased by migrants from mainland Europe.

Flight Period

Apart from a few brought out of hibernation by particularly warm winter days (1 January 2000 for example), the main early season flight period is from late March to about mid May. From mid June onwards two overlapping generations are very numerous, and most of the surviving adults have gone into hibernation by the end of September.


Throughout the area.