British Butterflies ID


Following the publication of the Damselfly and Dragonfly identification DVDs, my attention was turned to our Butterflies.

I have made a short film about each of our breeding species – life cycles are described and comparisons made with similar species. The films have been put together to create a double disc DVD. A Blu-ray version is available too – much better for detail on the large screen TVs we all have now. The overall running time is about 3hrs 28mins. As with the Dragonfly DVDs, I hope this will useful to beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike.

Click on the video links below to get a preview of four of the species.

Graham Sherwin

Which species are included

All our breeding species are represented except the Cryptic Wood White found in Ireland. Apart from the genitalia and habitat requirements this is identical to the Wood White. The butterflies are arranged in family groups with the Swallowtail attached to the Whites and the Small Copper attached to the Blues for convenience. Nymphalidae are split into three groups. The Duke of Burgundy is included with the Fritillaries for identification purposes (from it’s appearance, it was once thought to be a Fritillary).

The list is as follows with my groupings followed by the family name:


Skippers – Hesperiidae                                                        Chequered Skipper                                                              Small Skipper                                                                        Essex Skipper                                                                        Lulworth Skipper                                                                  Silver-spotted Skipper                                                        Large Skipper                                                                        Grizzled Skipper                                                                    Dingy Skipper

Swallowtails and Whites – Papilionidae & Pieridae   Swallowtail                                                                              Wood White                                                                          Clouded Yellow                                                                      Brimstone                                                                              Large White                                                                            Small White                                                                            Green-veined White                                                            Orange-tip

HairstreaksLycaenidae (part)                                        Green Hairstreak                                                                  Brown Hairstreak                                                                  Purple Hairstreak                                                                  White-letter Hairstreak                                                      Black Hairstreak


Coppers and BluesLycaenidae (part)                          Small Copper                                                                        Small Blue                                                                              Silver-studded Blue                                                            Brown Argus                                                                        Northern Brown Argus                                                      Common Blue                                                                      Chalkhill Blue                                                                        Adonis Blue                                                                          Holly Blue                                                                              Large Blue

The split is here on the DVD version

Admirals and EmperorsNymphalidae (part)            White Admiral                                                                      Purple Emperor                                                                    Red Admiral                                                                          Painted Lady                                                                          Small Tortoiseshell                                                              Peacock                                                                                  Comma

Metalmarks and Fritillaries –                         Riodinidae & Nymphalidae                                              Duke of Burgundy                                                                Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary                                          Pearl-bordered Fritillary                                                      High Brown Fritillary                                                            Dark Green Fritillary                                                            Silver-washed Fritillary                                                        Marsh Fritillary                                                                      Glanville Fritillary                                                                  Heath Fritillary 

BrownsNymphalidae (part)                                          Speckled Wood                                                                    Wall                                                                                          Mountain Ringlet                                                                  Scotch Argus                                                                          Marbled White                                                                      Grayling                                                                                  Gatekeeper                                                                            Meadow Brown                                                                    Ringlet                                                                                      Small Heath                                                                          Large Heath


The DVD version was reviewed by Peter Eeles of UK Butterflies in March 2021. To read the review please click on this link:                                British Butterflies ID Review

The Blu-ray version was reviewed by Scott J Barron in Atropos number 69 (2021) and I include some quotes from the review:

“The close-up video quality is excellent. The narrative is clear and informative, concisely describing appearance, key features, differences between the sexes (often shown side by side), nectar providing foodplants, behaviour, status, habitat and causes for population fluctuations. Coverage of similar species is comprehensive with the species displayed side by  on screen.”

“The accounts do not just contain perfect freshly emerged individuals which we all hope to see, but worn, elderly and battle-hardened individuals are featured throughout the videos, showing key features that can aid identification of a butterfly that ‘may not look right’ in the field.”

“I was very impressed with the quality of this film and there was certainly something special about having the ‘live’ specimen active in my living room on the TV screen. I would certainly recommend this product.”

“Just as I finish writing this and switch the Blu-ray player off my five year old daughter shouts at me “again, again!””