The Vanessidae butterflies are medium to large insects. Several species frequently visit gardens to nectar on flowers.



Above a Painted Lady butterfly nectaring on Sea Holly. Norfolk. August 2009.

In early August 2009 hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies appeared around Biggleswade, with sometimes several battling to nectar from the same flower. These were in my garden.


Comma feeding on a ripe blackberry. September 2009.

Comma butteflies nectaring on Sedum in my garden. September 2008.


The Camberwell Beauty is seen most years in Britain, coming over from mainland Europe where it is frequent. There seems to be no records of it breeding in Britain.


The Large Tortoiseshell was not uncommon in certain areas in Britain during late 1940's, but it died out over the next decade or two. Now it is recored in small numbers most years from southern England.


Once common the Small Tortoiseshell is now becoming scarce in many places. Norfolk 2009.

Small Tortoiseshells on Sedum in my garden. September 1991. I only saw one on the sedum in my garden last year!


A Peacock butterfly nectaring on Common Fleabane in Potton Wood, Bedfordshire. This species has remained common despite the demise of the Small Tortoiseshell.


Red Admiral feeding on Ivy flower above the River Live. Ocyober 2009.


The Purple Emperor is our most magnificent woodland butterfly. The purple sheen of the males is only seen from certain angles. Mostly this is an elusive butterfly of the tree tops, but sometimes comes down low to feed.

The male Purple Emperors sometimes comes down to drink from puddles or feed on decaying matter and animal dung. At these times they are easy to see at close quarters.

This Purple Emperor is feeding on honeydew. Sap ousing from damaged bark is a favorite food, they never feed from flowers. The above butterfly was photographed in Chicksands Wood on July 2010.


It is always a delight to see White Admiral butterflies (above) in a wood. In Bedfordshire we have several woods where this insect occurs, but only in modest numbers. Bramble flowers are a favorite nectar source of this butterfly.


All pictures are Copyright of Richard Revels FRPS