A black and white Brown!

This is a Marbled White butterfly (Melanargia galathea) and until two weeks ago I’d never seen one before in my life.


Don’t they look like those butterfly splot paintings we used to do as kids?

Despite being quite obviously black and white in colour, this butterfly is classified as part of the Brown Family and that is what I am seeing them with, in the fields where I walk Sadie.


The undersides to their wings look like hand-painted stained glass.

Indeed, this year there are impressive numbers of Browns emerging, particularly Ringlets, mixed in with Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. The Brown family butterflies seems to be on the increase generally.


Ringlets on the increase!

So I don’t know whether it is an especially good year for Marbled Whites or whether I’ve just been more observant, but I’ve gone from seeing and IDing just the one a fortnight ago, to encountering dozens on a daily basis. From what I’ve read about Marbled Whites they are not found in much of eastern England, so possibly I am seeing a change in their range occurring?


When I first spotted these butterflies they were in continuous flight, flitting low down in the rough grass areas of the newly planted Silver Jubilee Wood. I despaired of getting a picture to show. However, as more Marbled Whites have appeared in the unimproved meadows near the river and since the thistles and knapweed have started to flower, the butterflies are more settled, pausing to feed and mate.


Mating Marbled White butterflies

I was showing the butterflies to a friend when she spotted this mating pair deep in the grass. Sadly my camera battery died on me shortly after, but not before I managed to take a shot of one resting on my arm:


Have you seen a Marbled White before?



About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Nature, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A black and white Brown!

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Such a beautiful pattern – glad you are seeing more. Do you know what plants the larva favor? That may be key to why you are seeing more.

    • The caterpillars eat grasses … notably fescues (which abound in the fields). The land use hasn’t changed much in ages though. In any case I am happy to be seeing them now!

  2. We get them in the patches of meadow. There are two broods each year . The late ones are smaller. Good photos!

  3. Tina says:

    How nice! I’m sure that their host plant is growing nearby. Great shots, especially in your excitement. 🙂

  4. Chloris says:

    No, I’ve never seen one here. Beautiful.

  5. I have not seen one of these before in Ireland. They are quite beautiful.

  6. My goodness, what a great series of photos of the lovely marbled whites. They must like you 🙂. Many more browns here this year too, plus a welcome return of the dainty Holly blue.

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Love this post. Happy you had the chance to see this beautiful butterfly.

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