Sirhowy Hill Woodlands

Scientific name: Coenonympha pamphilus

Small Heath

Small, yellow-orange, flies close to the ground. Perches with its wings closed.


The Small Heath is an inconspicuous butterfly that flies only in sunshine and rarely settles more than a metre above the ground. Its wings are always kept closed when at rest. Underside of forewing has eyespot at tip. Hindwing banded with brown, grey and cream. The number of broods and the flight periods are variable and adults may be seen continuously from late April to September on some sites in southern England.


This relatively widespread butterfly can occupy a range of habitat types and, although its range has changed little, many colonies have disappeared in recent decades. Widespread in Britain and Ireland.

What does the Small Heath eat?

The Small Heath eats fine grasses, especially fescues (Festuca spp.), meadow-grasses (Poa spp.), and bents (Agrostis spp.).

What habitat does the Small Heath live in?

The Small Heath lives on grassland where there are fine grasses, especially in dry, well-drained situations where the sward is short and sparse. Typical habitats include; heathland, downland and coastal dunes, but it is also found on road verges, moorland and in woodland rides.

What family does the Small Heath belong to?

The Small Heath  belong to the Browns family.

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Scientific Name

Coenonympha pamphilus


England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland


Small sized

Wingspan Range: 34-38mm


Found throughout Britain and Ireland. Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -29%

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