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Butterflies of Chalkland/grassland in East Yorkshire


In East Yorkshire, where I live, is a range of environments that have specific flora and fauna. Around me is the Yorkshire wolds, mainly grassland over chalk. This creates ‘problems’ for gardeners if you want to grow rhododendrons without fussing with the soil.

If you let the natives and alkaline loving plants thrive then you get some lovely butterflies. Many of you will know my daughter, Victoria, specialises in Lepidoptera and has since April been carrying out butterfly transects [surveys] for the Butterfly Conservation. As she has been going to very isolated areas I have been going with her, partly for her safety but also for me to see the native flora.

Things we have seen are:
Brown Argus.


Dingy Skippers

Marbled white

green veined white

Small heath butterfly

Small skipper butterfly

We regularly see small tortoiseshells, common blue, painted lady, meadow brown and ringlets.

Some butterflies fly early in the year others later and some produce 2 generations in the one year.

One plant that has been a highlight for me was thistle broomrape parasitising woolly thistle.

woolly thistle

Whilst there I came across this purple flower. Know what it is?

It is the wild form of Campanula glomerata.

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Wonderful photos and great information, SBG.

7 Aug, 2021


Amazing photos. Enjoyed them all.

7 Aug, 2021


Thank you for all the info and the beautiful pics, so useful to have them all in one blog. I'll refer back to them as they're in my favourites now. The clustered bell flower brings back memories of never ending battles against total takeover in my garden years ago in wiltshire. Still a lovely flower though.

8 Aug, 2021


Brilliant photos Eileen, and sounds like a lovely day out. It’s great for us to have so many IDs … added to favourites for future reference!

8 Aug, 2021


Ditto that. I have not seen that many butterflies in my garden this year. The Buddleia is now flowering but I have only seen one Red Admiral & one Peacock so far. Holly blues show up early in the year, & the odd Brimstone.
Great photos, I like the Broomrape & the woolly thistle.

Is it ok to harvest the seeds from the Sisyrinchium now? They are beginning to turn black.

8 Aug, 2021


Fab blog and very informative as usual, Eileen! Beautiful captures too. That woolly thistle is unusually attractive! Thanks for sharing.

8 Aug, 2021


Thank you for all the compliments. I have so many blurred images probably 30 duff photos for 1 good one. We go to this Yorkshire Wildlife trust reserve every 2 weeks for the butterfly transect. And every 3 weeks for the other YWT reserve.

yes feverfew if the seeds are black they are ready for harvesting.

8 Aug, 2021


Stunning photos Seaburn, thankyou for sharing and for the info.

8 Aug, 2021


Interesting to see the butterflies that like chalkland vegetation. It must be a lovely experience going out to see them :)

9 Aug, 2021


what is beautiful is to see how the plants/grasses change in just a few weeks. Back in April there was very little to see but we have had cowslips, umbellefers and buttercups give way to orchids thyme and knapweeds, geraniums and scabious. There are at least 27 species of grass too.

9 Aug, 2021


Excellent photos, very interesting blog.

9 Aug, 2021


I see you have skippers in your garden too. They only showed up in my garden a couple years ago.

10 Aug, 2021


Great to read about, & see photos of, these lovely butterflies!

I have mostly seen only Large Cabbage Whites on the balcony so far this year - well as I've planted lots of climbing Nasturtiums is was to be expected! 😂

10 Aug, 2021


All these photos were taken at the Nature reserves Bathgate. Not spotted any skippers in the garden sadly. Doesn't mean we don't get them though. I seem to remember there are 4 UK species. They are thought to be the evolutionary link between butterflies and moths according to my daughter.

The large and small whites are often the same size so you may have had them both Balcony. It depends on how much the black extends down the wings. I do get both in the garden and the green veined whites too. Mine are loving my nasturtiums too :o) and my cabbages :o(

We did spot 3 holly blues males 'dancing' together. They are 'fighting over a female'. She was having a nonchalant feed n the water mint.

11 Aug, 2021

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