Devon Wildlife Trust The medium-sized meadow brown is one of the commonest grassland butterflies, on the wing in the summer, from June to September. It also occurs in parks, gardens and cemeteries. It even flies in dull weather when other butterflies are inactive. Adults can be seen in large numbers, flying low over the grass and flowers. Caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses such as fescues, bents and meadow-grasses.

How to identify

The meadow brown is mainly brown with washed-out orange patches on the forewings. The best way to identify the 'brown' butterflies is by looking at the eyespots on their wings. The combination of its relatively large size, orange patches on the forewings only, one eyespot on the forewing and none at all on the hindwings, is unique to the meadow brown. The meadow brown also has only one small white 'pupil' in the eyespots, instead of two like the gatekeeper.


Devon Branch of Butterfly Conservation Devon has around 39 resident butterfly species and we can help point you in the right direction on where and when is best to see them.  Why not join in our one of our Events (during the summer we organise field events to show you some of our resident butterfly species and in the winter we organise conservation work days to improve the habitat for butterflies in Devon).

Butterfly Conservation Widespread and common throughout Britain and Ireland. The Meadow Brown is the most abundant butterfly species in many habitats. Hundreds may be seen together at some sites, flying low over the vegetation. Adults fly even in dull weather when most other butterflies are inactive. The Gatekeeper is generally smaller and more orange with a row of tiny white dots on the hind underwings. 

Regional variations in the spotting pattern on the wings have led to it being studied extensively by geneticists over many years. Larger forms occur in Ireland and the north of Scotland. It is one of our most widespread species, but many colonies have been lost due to agricultural intensification.

Meadow Brown on Brambles, Rock Lane, Chulmleigh, photo by Grant Sherman 20th June 2020


Devonshire Association Entomology Section The Entomology Section promotes the study and recording of insects and also spiders in the county.

Meetings, talks, exhibitions, publications and field trips are arranged annually across the county of Devon and are suitable for beginners and experienced alike. Field trips are usually held in association with other specialist groups with whom we maintain close links. We also meet with other sections to demonstrate, and learn, about the inter-relationships with other disciplines.

With at least ten specialists in different Orders within the insect class we cater for a wide range of interests. Some of our Recorders are national experts in their field and hence we are the major collective source of entomological expertise in the county.


Devon Biodiversity Record Centre Submit your sightings of Meadow Browns and other species in Devon 


British Naturalist's Association 

There are 56 British butterflies species breeding in the UK. These are represented by just six families, skippers (Hesperiidae): swallowtails (Papilionidae): whites and yellows (Pieridae): hairstreaks, coppers and blues (Lycaenidae): metalmarks (Riodinidae) and the fritillaries, nymphalids and browns (Nymphalidae)

Two of these families are represented by only one species, the Papilionidae by the swallowtail (Papilio machaon), which is confined to Norfolk Broads and the Riodinidae by the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) found only in local areas in the north-east, north-west and south-east England.

Twenty nine of Great Britain’s breeding butterfly species are listed as ‘High UK priority’, with 9 of those regarded as requiring ‘urgent action across their UK range’. Butterfly Conservation found further evidence of the serious, long-term and ongoing decline of UK butterflies, with 70% of species declining in occurrence since 1976. and overall, 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterfly species declined in either abundance or occurrence (or both) over the past four decades. By comparison, 47% of species increased in one or both measures. This is of great concern not just for butterflies but for other wildlife species and the overall state of the environment. 


Buglife is the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. We’re actively working to save Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, worms to woodlice and jumping spiders to jellyfish. 


National Biodiveristy Network The NBN Atlas is a collaborative project that aggregates biodiversity data from multiple sources and makes it available and usable online. It is the UK’s largest collection of freely available biodiversity data. 


Wikipedia The meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) is a butterfly found in the Palearctic realm. Its range includes Europe south of 62°N, Russia eastwards to the Urals, Asia Minor, Iraq, Iran, North Africa and the Canary Islands. The larvae feed on grasses.

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