Belongs to: brown butterflies

Grayling Hipparchia semele


Best time to see: mid Jul to early Sep

Key facts

Our largest brown butterfly, always settling with its wings closed

Favours very dry areas where the grasses are fine and the ground is sun-baked, such as in old quarries or on dunes

Widespread on the coast and on southern heaths but declining in many areas and scarce in Essex


Cryptic colouring makes it difficult to see when at rest

Looping and gliding flight when the pale bands on the upperwings are noticeable


They live in small colonies containing only a few tens or hundreds of adult butterflies

Caterpillar foodplants are grasses such as fescues

© Tony Gunton

© Andrew Sapsford