Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan (36–)45–56 mm (dwarfism being occasionally encountered); the fringes not banded. Slender-bodied to medium built; short-bodied. The eyes glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate; curved; not flattened (tapered to the dark tip). Labial palps ascending. Having only 4 fully developed legs. Fore-legs without a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs 2-spurred. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred.

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer and hind margins angled at about 100–110 degrees. The outer margins slightly concavely curved, or more or less straight; not scalloped. Uppersides of the forewings normally dark fuscous, or dark brown (occasionally “bleached”, entirely or in part); eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1; posterior towards the apex. Uppersides of the forewings without a discal mark; dark fuscous, with a black white-centred ocellus towards the apex, this located in a discal to apical orange patch in females; in males they exhibit a broad, blackish zone in the central area, and the orange area is smaller, darkly suffused or lacking.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings normally dark fuscous, or dark brown (occasionally “bleached”, entirely or in part); conspicuously patterned to plain. Uppersides of the hindwings not eye-spotted. Uppersides of the hindwings without a discal mark; usually more or less plain, with a somewhat paler postmedian band which is partly orange in some females.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings orange with fuscous margins; conspicuously eye-spotted. The eye-spots 1 (white-centred, black); posterior towards the apex (corresponding with the one on the upperside).

Undersides of the hindwings light to dark brownish or greyish with a broad, more or less sharply delimited paler postmedian band which often incloses two or three small ocelli or black dots; ambiguously with a conspicuous discal mark to without a discal mark.

Wing venation. Forewings 12(–13) veined; with basally dilated veins; vein 12 basally dilated; the lower margin of the discal cell basally dilated; vein 1b not dilated. Forewings with 2 tubular anal veins (the upper being weaker and terminating in the disc); the anal veins of the forewings comprising 1b and 1c; vein 1b simple. Forewings with a discal cell; vein 2 departing from the cell less than three-quarters of the distance from its base (from about halfway). Forewing veins 8 and 9 out of 7, with 10 and 11 separate from the cell.

Hindwings 9 veined; with a praecostal spur to without a praecostal spur (this tiny); with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. Hindwings with a closed discal cell; the transverse vein complete. 7 veins arising from the hindwing cell. The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs barrel-shaped (somewhat broader basally, with an apical concavity); longitudinally ribbed (with about 20 ribs?). The larvae shortly hairy; without bristly spines. On grasses.

Pupae smooth and rounded; conspicuously patterned (pale green, with brownish and blackish markings); without shining-metallic markings; exposed, with no coccoon; suspended from the tail (cremaster), with no median silk girdle (with the larval skin retained at the tail-end).

British representation. 1 species. Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown). The adults abroad June to August.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

Distribution. Northern Scotland, southern Scotland, northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, Isle of Wight, and Ireland. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Comments. An accompanying illustration exemplifies the phenomena of bleached wings and dwarfism.

Classification. Superfamily Papilionoidea. Satyridae.

Illustrations. • Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown): photos. • Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown): egg, larva, pupa. • Larvae of M. jurtina and other Satyridae: Duponchel (1849). • Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown: Hübner/Curtis). • Maniola, Pyronia, Erebia, Aphantopus (Browns: Coleman, 1860).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies. Version: 16th May 2016.’.