Photo by Amy Lewis of a Meadow Brown Butterfly facing to the right with its wings raised above it showing the eye spot and orange patch on underside of it's left wing.

Meadow Brown Butterfly

Maniola Jurtina

Key Facts

  • Wingspan: 4.0-6.0cm

The 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. The Meadow Brown is a medium-sized butterfly that flies even 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 fore-wings. 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 fore-wings only, one eyespot on the fore-wing and none at all on the hind-wings, 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.

Where to Find

Found throughout the country.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and woodland edge habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, including the Meadow Brown. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition – supporting invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you’ll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Did you know?

Males are much more active than females, who spend much of their time sat on the ground hidden amongst the grass.

Similar Species