Butterflies are insects, which together with moths, form the order Lepidoptera. There is no clear difference between butterflies and moths, other than we choose to refer to several families of lepidopterans as butterflies and the others as moths. All have 2 pairs of wings that are covered in minute scales which give them the colours and patterns we are familiar with. Butterflies, like moths, have 4 stages to their life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa and adult (called an imago). Most species have a life cycle of up to a year, though the adult may only live for a few weeks. However some adult butterflies live for nearly a year by overwintering in a type of insect hibernation. There are around 60 species of butterfly in Britain but little over half of these are found in Leicestershire and Rutland. There are 32 species which are known to breed in our two counties, although 2 of these (Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow) do not survive the winter so we rely on migrants to repopulate the species each year. A few additional species used to breed here but have become extinct. There are very occasional records of other species being seen here but these are largely just rare migrants. The Leicestershire & Rutland species not yet featured on this page are all rare or uncommon and these are Black Hairstreak and White Admiral.
All images on this website have been taken in Leicestershire and Rutland by NatureSpot members. We welcome new contributions - just register and use the Submit Records form to post your photos. Click on any image below to visit the species page. The RED / AMBER / GREEN dots indicate how easy it is to identify the species, particularly from a photo. See our Photo ID page for more information.