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meadow brown   <>   maniola jurtina   <>   donnóg fhéir     


Female Meadow Brown  © D Hardiman
  © D Hardiman 2005 

Habitat:  The Meadow Brown is one of the most widespread and common species in Ireland and is found in meadows and grassy areas.
It is single brooded
Larval Food Plant: Variety of the finer grasses including-
                                              Fescues  Festuca spp.
                                              Bents  Agrostis spp.
Flight Time:   Mid-June to mid-September
Hibernation:   They do not hibernate. 
There is considerable variation in colour in the species with the male being darker than the female.  Pigment is often lost with age resulting in 'bleaching'.  
Female Meadow Browns are sometimes mistaken for Gatekeepers.



Meadow Brown                © DHardiman 2003



Life Cycle of  the Meadow Brown


The small newly laid egg is mottled yellowish-brown becoming grey before hatching.
It is spherical in shape and flattened top and bottom measuring c.0.5 mm in diameter.
The egg is laid singly mainly on blades off grass,  often scattered fairly indiscriminately among the food plants.
Hatching takes place in c.2 weeks.  The egg laying season is long lasting from c.June to September.


The adult larva measures up to 28 mm in length, tapering towards the rear.
The body is bright green with a dark-green mediodorsal line and a pale-yellow line extends along each side
below the level of the spiracles.  The body is covered with fairly long white hairs. The head is green and the 
anal points white.

On hatching larvae of  this single-brooded species eat their eggshell and feed steadily thereafter on grass
leaves until the frosts.

During the winter months they do not hibernate but continue in mild weather to be active by day on whatever
grasses are available and hiding and resting low down among the grasses when cold.  They continue in this
way until about March when, usually in the 3rd instar, they change to feeding mainly by night, rising to the 
top of the leaves to feed and resting low down.  They are rather sedentary and move only short distances.  
The final instar begins pupation in late May or early June.


The pupa hangs downwards on the grass stem, attached to a silk pad spun by the larva, and suspended by
means of  hooks formed by the cast larval skin which remains attached to the pupa.
This pupal stage lasts c.4 weeks depending on the temperature.
The pupation period lasts from c. late May to early August.


After emergence the flight season is long lasting from about late June to late September/October.



Comparison of  Meadow   Brown  and  Gatekeeper  Butterflies


 Contents ]

 SpeckledWood ] WallBrown ] Grayling ] Gatekeeper ] [ MeadowBrown ] Ringlet ] SmallHeath ] LargeHeath ] 

Hesperidae ] Pieridae ] Lycaenidae ] Nymphalidae ] Satyridae ] Migrants ] .