AGLAIS urticae

Small Tortoiseshell




Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Subclass: Pterygota (Winged Insects)
Order: Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Sub-Order: Rhopalocera (Butterflies)
Family: Nymphalidae (Fritillaries)
Genus: Aglais
Species: urticae
Aglais urticae

The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly is one of the most frequently-seen butterflies, not only in the countryside and gardens, but also because it sometimes hibernates in houses. It is a fairly large butterfly, with an easily-recognised colour-scheme. The upper side is bright orange, with beige, black and white banding at the top of the forewing, a wide black band with blue circles around both wings, and an edging of fine stripes in orange, beige and white. The wings have a jagged, angular shape, with very slight 'tails' on the hind wings. The underside is a dull mixture of browns and beiges.

The Small Tortoiseshell can often be seen sunning itself outstretched on walls and fences in autumn. Food plants include Thistles, Aubrieta, Candytuft and Buddleja.

The caterpillar is speckled, yellowish, and spiny. Its food plant is, as its Latin name implies, stinging nettles.

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