Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by Brian Ecott


Butterflies seen in the forest

Marbled white female butterfly Melanargia galathea butterfly found by Sarah White and photographed © Simon Taylor 29th June 2017 on the Woodland Trust's farmland near Lambourne End. On the 2nd July Raymond Small and I saw them flying on the wild flower area on Hog Hill. This I believe to be their first appearance in this area. Simon Taylor is Vice President, and Sarah White is General Secretary of The Essex Field Club

SPECKLED WOOD  Parage aegeria Woodland rides and edges. April - June & July - September. Foodplant:  Grasses.

Left: on stones in wildlife garden 22nd July 2011.  Right: on bramble

Speckled wood on hedge bindweed 9th September 2009


COMMA Polygonia c-album   

feeding on blackberry juice.


Far left: © Michael Rumble

27th August 2013.


Left: © Brian Ecott

4th October 2007.



COMMA Polygonia c-album on nettle 1st July 2005

Late brood of Comma butterfly Polygonum c-album on Michaelmas daisy. 8th October 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Comma butterfly Polygonia c-album  on bramble 30th June 2017.

 Photo © Brian Ecott

The underwing of a Comma butterfly showing the capital C. 21st June 2017.. Photo © Michael Rumble.

Comma butterflies  feeding on blackberry juice. The feeding tube or proboscis is seen probing the fruit in the picture, above left.

SMALL COPPER Lycaena phlaeas Egg laying on Common sorrel.

Photo © Michael Rumble 10th October 2011.


Lycaena phlaeas

Fields and open ground.

Three broods May-mid June, July-Aug, and mid Sept-Oct.

Foodplant: Common sorrel, Sheep sorrel and other docks.

Photo: © Iris Newbery

Below: SMALL COPPER egg on stem of Common sorrel. Oct. 2001


Small copper butterfly  Lycaena phlaeas on Creeping cinquefoil,

 Photo © Brian Ecott. 22nd May 2017.


RED ADMIRAL Vanessa atalanta  Any habitat. Resident and Migrant.  End May - mid July, early August - mid Oct. or later. Foodplant: Stinging nettle and Hops. 4th Oct 07

Red admiral  Vanessa atalanta 1st June 2017. Photo © Michael Rumble

Three of at least eight Red admirals  nectaring at one time on the ivy near the Global Café. 25th October 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Painted lady Vanessa cardui on path by Lake. 8th June 2017. An immigrant species - may have just arrived from North Africa. Photo © Brian Ecott PAINTED LADY Vanessa cardui  Rough ground and lanes. Mid May - end June, early Aug - end September or later. Foodplant: Thistles, Stinging nettles

Painted Lady butterfly Vanessa cardui on Creeping thistle. This is a migratory species from North Africa. May have a brood here in July using nettles and thistles as larval food plants. Several seen this month. 15th July 2015.

Photo © Michael Rumble




Above: GATEKEEPER  Pyronia tithonus Male

Grassy areas, woodland rides, and along hedgerows. Early July - mid Sept. Foodplant: Various grasses. Photo: © Iris Newbery.


Above right: Male Gatekeeper with the scent cells indicated on the forewings.

These cells secrete a scent to which the female is attracted.

Photo: August 1984.


GATEKEEPER males sunning themselves on bramble leaves. August 1984


Male Gatekeeper butterfly Pyronia tithonus on blackberry leaf. The male has large diagonal brown scent glands on the upper wings.

Photo © Michael Rumble  1st July 2017.

Female Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus on grassland. Notice the absence of the scent glands in the female. Photo © Brian Ecott. 14th July 2017  

Meadow brown butterfly (male) Maniola jurtina. 21st July 2015.

Photograph ©  Colin Carron

Meadow brown butterfly (female) Maniola jurtina. 9th July 2015.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae nectaring on bramble flowers. It is found February to October hibernating as an adult in trees and buildings.

Photo © Michael Rumble. 24th July 2013

Small tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae. A magnificent detailed picture, the butterfly has settled on Creeping thistle. Photo © Raymond Small 29th July 2017



Aglais urticae 

Any habitat.

Mid June - mid August, Sept - end May following year.

Foodplant: Stinging nettle

Photo: © Iris Newbery






PEACOCK  Inachis io

Any habitat.

Mid July - end May following year.

Foodplant: Stinging nettle.

Photo: © Iris Newbery


PEACOCK Inachis io feeding on Buddleia in the Wildlife garden 20 July 2010  

LARGE SKIPPER Ochlodes venata  Photo: July 2000

Meadows, rough ground, rides and clearings.

Early June - early August. Foodplant: Grasses.

Large skipper butterfly Ochlodes venata. Larval food plant - likes Cocks-foot grass.  21st July 2015. Photograph ©  Colin Carron

Male and female Large skipper butterflies Ochlodes venata. Found throughout June 2017. The male has a dark brown  oblique scent gland on the upper wings. Photos © Brian Ecott


SMALL SKIPPER Thymelicus sylvestris  Grassy areas

End June - mid August   Foodplant: Softer grasses such as Yorkshire Fog.

1st July 2005.

SMALL SKIPPER  Thymelicus sylvestris Grass areas.    Underside of antennae clubs is brown. On knapweed.

 22nd July 2013

Small skipper butterflies Thymelicus sylvestris on Common Knapweed. The undersides of the antennae are orange tipped. 6th July 2017 Photos © Brian Ecott.

Small skipper butterfly Thymelicus sylvestris. The antennae are orange with black undersides, and the black line at an angle to the body is a scent gland denoting a male. Larval food plant - likes Yorkshire fog, opposite

9th July 2015. Photo © Michael Rumble.

Essex skipper butterfly Thymelicus lineola. 21st July 2015.

Photograph ©  Colin Carron

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Female. First sunny day this year. 16th February 2014. Photo: © Michael Rumble

BRIMSTONE Gonepteryx rhamni. Male. Open woodland. Food plants: Purging buckthorn and Alder buckthorn. Both are scarce trees in the forest area.

One of each known.   April 1992

SMALL HEATH Coenonympha pamphilus  Grassy areas.

Mid May - end July and late August - early October. Foodplant: Grasses.

Underside forewing has black spot containing one white dot. June 1993.

MEADOW BROWN pair. Maniola jurtina on bramble.

Photo: ©  Michael Rumble  17th July 2013

MEADOW BROWN Maniola jurtina Male.

Grassy areas, open areas in woods. Mid June - mid September.

Foodplant: Various grasses  Photo: © Iris Newbery

RINGLET PAIR Aphantopus hyperantus    The Common. 13th July 2007.  Grasses for egg laying, bramble foodplant.

Ringlet  Aphantopus hyperantus. Wings badly damaged. Very common this year over all the long grassland. 15th July 2015. Photo ©  Michael Rumble

Late brood of Common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus on Michaelmas daisy 24th October 2017, Photo © Raymond Small
Common Blue butterflies Polyommatus icarus  On the Common, Chigwell Row conditions were right for a mass display of Common blue butterflies. Sunshine and food plants - Bird's foot trefoil, Lesser yellow trefoil. and white and red clovers. Hundreds of Blues were on the wing, chasing, fighting and seeking mates. Even the females were a blue form.  It is a sight that I have not witnessed before in such numbers. It shows good management practices by the Woodland Trust  Photo © Brian Ecott. 31st May 2017.
After a whole month I finally managed to photograph an elusive Common blue male butterfly Polyommatus icarus. The wings were closed and tilted towards the sun. The antennae are black and white. When flying it was a bright blue. 30th July 2015.

Pair of  COMMON BLUES on Common fleabane. August 2000,

COMMON BLUE  Polyommatus icarus

Female on Michaelmas daisy   July 1990

Common Blue male nectaring on bramble July 1976.

















COMMON BLUE Polyommatus icarus

Male. Rough ground, downland, heathland.

Beginning Jun - July,

Aug - Sept/Oct.

Foodplant: Bird's foot trefoil.

Photo: © Iris Newbery

Captive butterfly is a Brown argus flying amongst the Common blues. A missing dot on the upper wing (1) and a figure eight (2) on the lower wing. Hog Hill.

Photo © Brian Ecott    18th July 2017.

Here the figure 8 is present on the lower wing.

Hog Hill

Photo © Raymond Small. 21st July 2017.

Here is the open wings of a Brown Argus.

Hog Hill

Photo © Raymond Small. 21st July 2017.

Another first for Hainault Forest Country Park.  Brown Argus butterflies Aricia agestis. Found on Hog Hill and the long grassland behind the lake. The usual foodplants like Rockrose are not present, but the Brown Argus is expanding its range feeding on Cut leaved cranesbill and Meadow cranesbill which we have in plenty.

The autumn generation of Holly blue lays eggs in the flowers of ivy where it overwinters as a pupa. The spring generation emerges to lay their eggs on holly.  Photo © Raymond Small. 27th October 2017


Celastrina argiolus

Female.  Woods and hedgerows

Beginning April to end MayAugust.

Foodplant: Spring - Holly

                Autumn - Ivy.

Photo: © Iris Newbery

Holly Blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus on Creeping thistle 12th August 2017.  Photo © Brian Ecott  
Holly blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus. There are two generations a year - this is the second. The dark inner edges of the wing indicates a female.  Photos © Michael Rumble

PURPLE HAIRSTREAK larva on young oak stem. June 2001

Photo: © Iris Newbery

PURPLE HAIRSTREAK  Quercusia quercus  Just emerged.

Oak woods  Beginning July - end August.  Foodplant: Common oak.

August 2001.


Quercusia quercus On bramble Cabin Hill. 30 July 2006


Quercusia quercus Female on bramble Cabin Hill. 1st August 2006


WHITE ADMIRAL Limenitis camilla

Roe's Well. 4th September 2006.

Honeysuckle for egg laying, bramble foodplant.


WHITE ADMIRAL Limenitis camilla butterflies © Chris and Margaret Gannaway 10th August 2013. The larval foodplant is honeysuckle (often browsed by Muntjac deer in Hainault) so that it is important to retain any honeysuckle lianas hanging from trees and well out of the reach of the Muntjac.


GREEN VEINED WHITE Pieris napi pair 

Woodlands, damp meadows.

Mid April - mid June, and mid July - end August.

Foodplant: Garlic mustard, Water cress.

Photo © Iris Newbery





GREEN VEINED WHITE Pieris napi  Male.

June 2001


Green-veined white Pieris napi on creeping thistle. 22nd July 2015

Both pictures of Large white butterfly aka Cabbage white Pieris brassicae on Scots thistle and creeping thistle. The curved feeding tube or proboscis can be seen on the right picture probing the creeping thistle. 18th July 2015. Photographs ©  Michael Rumble.

LARGE WHITE PAIR Pieris brassicae. Cabbages, cruciferous plants.

Two generations between May - early September and in good years late September - October.   Photo: 10th September 2007.


ORANGE TIP egg in the flower-head of Cuckoo flower. May 1995.




Anthocharis cardamines Male.

Photo: © Iris Newbery






Anthocharis cardamines

Wood edges, hedgerows, and damp meadows.

Beginning May  end June.

Foodplant: Cruciferous plants i.e. Garlic mustard, Cuckoo flower.

Photo: © Iris Newbery







Orange tip butterfly  Anthocharis cardamines. Left is the stem and flower head of Jack-by-the-hedge aka Garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata. Within the flower head is a single tiny orange egg (arrowed but difficult to see as it is only 1.2mm long. Centre is a closer scan of the flower head and the egg. Right the enlarged egg is shown to have several longitudinal ridges, A tiny (6mm) caterpillar emerges and feeds on the developing seed pods. This is the egg of the Orange tip butterfly.  The orange tips foodplants also includes Lady's smock - hence the value of conserving this plant in the grassland as mentioned above.

Small Heath butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus a tiny grassland butterfly. Settled with its wings closed and angled towards the sun. Grass is the larval foodplant. 25th May 2015. on Hoghill.

Small Heath butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus on short grassland 

The butterfly rests with its wings closed and angled to the sun for maximum warmth.  23rd May 2014.