Small Tortoiseshell

Aglais urticae

Andrew Cooper
Iain H Leach
Dean Morley
Andrew Cooper
Andrew Cooper
Dean Morley

Identification Tip

The wings are mainly reddish-orange with black and yellow markings, and a blue and black border.

What do they eat?

Caterpillars munch on:

  • Common Nettle
  • Small Nettle

Adults take nectar from a range of flowers including:

  • Betony
  • Michaelmas-daisies
  • Primrose
  • Sallows
  • Water mint

Where does it spend the winter?

This butterfly spends the winter as an adult, hibernating somewhere dark and sheltered such as a shed, barn, log pile, hollow tree or an attic.



Flying Season

January - December

Life Cycle


January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December


April, May, July, August


May, June, July, August


June, July, August, September

UK Distribution

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Small Tortoiseshell

A book from 1893 contains a report of three Small Tortoiseshells hibernating in a church bell, apparently undisturbed by the noise and vibrations through the winter!