White admiral

Butterflies in Oakley Wood

Oakley Wood is an important butterfly site containing 70% of Warwickshire’s butterfly species. It is possible to see 25 of the 36 species of butterfly that breed in Warwickshire at this site though 4 of these species only visit the wood to nectar on the many flower species found there. The four species that just visit the wood are the Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small White and Small Tortoiseshell.

Silver washed fritillary
Silver washed fritillary

Recent management work, including the widening of rides, has improved the wood greatly for butterflies. This improvement has allowed butterfly species that prefer warmer areas to colonise, including the Small and Essex Skippers, Brown Argus, Common Blue and Small Copper.

The management regime should also help two rare butterflies that breed in the wood. The White Admiral is a beautiful and graceful butterfly that can been seen from late June to early August. Its caterpillars feed on the wild honeysuckle that trail down from the trees. These drapes of honeysuckle need to be growing in the dappled shade so the recent ride widening should help this species.

The other rarity in the wood is the Silver-washed Fritillary. This large orange and black butterfly has powerful flight and can be seen flying around the woodland paths in July and August. In mid July look out for their courtship flight. The males romantically fly around the female butterflies showering them with the butterfly equivalent of perfume. If you see any of these wonderful butterflies please let Butterfly Conservation know by submitting your sighting via the Butterfly Conservation website. Our map of Oakley Wood can help find the grid reference of your sighting.

For photographs taken in the wood, see the butterflies and moths showcase.

Mike Slater, Butterfly Conservation

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