Small tortoiseshell at Great Yarmouth by Michael Sankey 1/8
Small tortoiseshell at Pensthorpe by Brian Beckett 2/8
Small tortoiseshell at NWT Hickling by Nick Goodrum 3/8
Small tortoiseshell at Stoke Holy Cross by Elizabeth Dack 4/8
Small tortoiseshell at Ranworth by Elizabeth Dack 5/8
Small tortoiseshell at Strumpshaw Fen by Elizabeth Dack 6/8
Small tortoiseshell at Cley by Maurice Funnell 7/8
Two small tortoiseshell butterflies by Duncan McNab 8/8

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

Many gardens will have a buddleia, or “butterfly bush” on which the small tortoiseshell used to be a common sight. However, in the last three to four years, there has been a population crash. The reasons for this are yet to be fully understood though the influence of a predator which parasitises the early stages seems likely.

Conservation status

The mere statistics do not record the true position. The population in Britain fell by about 15% between 1976-2004 (The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland – 2006). However, numbers fell dramatically in 2006-08 contributing to an overall decline of 64% (30 Years of Norfolk Butterflies). Fluctuations in population seem ‘normal’ for this species and there was something of a recovery in 2010; now seemingly followed by another crash.

Related questions & advice

What is the difference between moths and butterflies?


Did you know? The British population is augmented by immigration from the Continent. They can sometimes be observed coming in off the North Sea.
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