Meadow Brown - Herts & Middx Butterfly Conservation
Meadow Brown (m) 2013 - Dave Miller Meadow Brown (f) 2015 - Peter Clarke

Meadow Brown

Maniola jurtina

Widespread and common

Meadow Brown branch distribution

Distribution and Status

The Meadow Brown is widely distributed and common in the two counties. It was apparently absent in parts of eastern Middlesex in the 1980s but reports of its occurrence in the Tower Hamlets area, for instance, in the last few years, are good signs. Abundance across the region has suffered a significant decline since the 1980s which may be attributed to pesticide spraying on field margins, for example, or the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides

Habitat Requirements

Most types of grassland except on the very shortest turf

Larval Foodplants

Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass Poa pratensis seems to be the principal foodplant. Other main foodplants include Bent Agrostis sp., Cock's-foot Dactylis glomerata, Common Couch Elytrigia repens, Fescue Festuca spp and Wood Meadow Grass Poa nemoralis

Adult Food Sources

Buddleia Buddleja davidii, Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense, Common Ragwort Senecio jacobea

Behaviour/Observation notes

Males usually emerge days earlier than females and for both sexes they emerge earlier in warm open situations than on hedgerows and edges of woodland. Where found, they are very conspicuous and easy to photograph. Females can be confused with female Gatekeepers; see differences in the account for the Gatekeeper. Males on the other hand, can look like Ringlets at a distance especially with faded specimens although for experienced observers the floppier flight of the Ringlet is characteristic

Meadow Brown branch phenology

Life History

A single generation is produced per year. Numbers peak in the middle of July but the flight season is very long, due to varying rates of larval development in the spring, so quite a few individuals can often be seen in September. It is possible that females aestivate in very hot weather as occurs in southern Europe but there is no clear evidence of this in the UK. Eggs are laid singly or just simply dropped into the vegetation. Larvae feed on the grasses and overwinter until the spring when they pupate low amongst the vegetation suspended on a stem

Further information

Photo gallery
Branch Annual Report (2022)
UK distribution map
Full list of larval hostplants (Nymphalidae)
Stevenage butterflies - additional notes


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