Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus


The Small Heath is one of our commonest grassland butterflies but it has declined slightly in recent decades due to intensive agriculture. It favours dry, well-drained grassland, particularly heath, downland and coastal dunes


The upperwings are pale golden beige, but these are difficult to observe as it always rests with its wings closed. The underside of the upper wing is orange with an eye-spot and a buff-coloured tip, and there is a central pale flash on the underside of the hindwing, which points towards the margin.

Flight times

The Small Heath is usually double-brooded except in the northern part of its range, and flies between late April and early September in the south.

Food plants

Eggs are laid singly on blades of fescues, bents and meadow-grasses.

Small Heath
Small Heath - © Simon Jenkins

Distribution Maps

Small Heath distribution map 2005-09
Small Heath distribution map 2010-14
Small Heath distribution map 2015-19
Small Heath distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 255
First sighting 09/05/2015
Last sighting 01/10/2015
Small Heath distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 212
First sighting 25/03/2016
Last sighting 27/09/2016
Small Heath distribution map 2017
2017 Summary
No of tetrads 195
First sighting 08/04/2017
Last sighting 29/09/2017
Small Heath distribution map 2018
2018 Summary
No of tetrads 263
First sighting 08/05/2018
Last sighting 10/10/2018
Small Heath distribution map 2019
2019 Summary
No of tetrads 246
First sighting 05/05/2019
Last sighting 10/10/2019
Small Heath distribution map 2020
2020 Summary
No of tetrads 296
First sighting 15/04/2020
Last sighting 29/09/2020
Small Heath distribution map 2021
2021 Summary
No of tetrads 248
First sighting 02/05/2021
Last sighting 26/09/2021

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