Yorkshire supports 39 butterfly species. Many are still common, some are at increasing risk due to habitat loss and human pressures while others are seriously threatened due to their very limited distribution in the county as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.
The list below contains all species that currently occur in our region. More information about the status of each species is available by clicking on the species photos below.
The Skippers (Family Hesperiidae)
In Yorkshire, the Hesperiidae family is represented by four species. Known commonly as "skippers" because of their rapid, darting flight, these moth-like butterflies are split in to three sub-families, the Pyrginae represented by two species and Hesperiinae represented by three species. There are no representatives of the sub-family Heteropterinae resident in our region.
Whites and Sulphurs (Family Pieridae)
In Yorkshire, the Pieridae family is represented by six species. The pigment (whites, yellows and oranges) are derived from uric acid waste products which deposit themselves on the wing scales during pupation. The pupae of all species from the Pieridae family are positioned in an upright fashion, with a single silk girdle around the middle of the pupae.
Vanessids, Fritillaries & Browns (Family Nymphalidae)
In Yorkshire, the Nymphalidae family is represented by seventeen species. They are often referred to as the 'brush-foots' because of the non-functional pair of front legs which are reduced in size and covered with hair-like scales. These forelegs are often tucked under the body of the butterfly. The caterpillars tend to be covered in spines or have other protrusions such as horns on the head or tail. The pupae are angular in shape and are jewel like in appearance with shiny metallic gold or silver spots.
An exception to the above rules is members of the sub-family Satyrinae (The Browns and Ringlets), whose caterpillars feed on grasses. The caterpillars also have pointed projections at the end of the body. It should be noted that the Marbled White despite its appearance is a member of this sub-family, its behaviour and life-cycle being similar to other Browns.
The Browns (Satyrinae)
Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks (Family Lycaenidae)
In Yorkshire, the Lycaenidae family consists of eight species split between three sub-families Lycaeninae, Theclinae and Polyommatinae.
They are some of our most beautiful species but are easily overlooked due to their small size and behaviour.