Small Heath butterfly

Coenonympha pamphilus

family - Satyridae (Browns)

Image of Small Heath butterfly

The Small Heath butterfly rests with it's wings closed. The forewing is orange with an eyespot; the hindwing is greyish-brown.

My personal observations of the Small Heath butterfly

months seen in my garden: none
months seen in the countryside: May, June and August

butterfly sightings 2005:

Small Heath at Selsley Common, 28 May
Small Heath at Leckhampton hill, 29 May
Small Heath at Grimes Graves, 9 June
Seen at Whitesheet Hill, 21 August

best slide from 2003:

Small Heath Camoflaged. Crickley Hill, Gloucestershire. June 22.

top 3 memorable digital images of 2003:

I have only 5 digital images from 2003.

thumbnail link On Yarrow. Fontmell Down, Dorset. August 11.

thumbnail link Fontmell Down, Dorset. August 14.

thumbnail link Fontmell Down, Dorset. August 14.


This is a very small butterfly and being primarily brown, it is hard to spot. The very first one that I saw, was pointed out to me by my daughter. She was then aged 10 (3 June 2001) and had followed it's flight and was able to show me where it had landed. We were visiting Crickley Hill country park that day.

The Small Heath butterfly could be described as a miniature version of the Meadow Brown butterfly.

Reference Section

Size: 33-40mm (smaller than the Small White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: May-August
Second Generation flight period: August-September

Habitat: Grassland
Larval Food Plants: Grasses
Wild Nectar Plants: Yarrow

Family Group: Satyridae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 9 December, 2005