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small heath   <>   coenonympha  pamphilus   <>   fraochán beag


  © D Hardiman   

Habitat:  The Small Heath is widespread and common in heathy and grassy areas especially near the coast.  
It has two broods annually.
Larval Food Plant:   Variety of  grasses including-
                                           Meadow Grass  Poa spp.
                                           Fescues  Festuca spp.
Flight Time:   End of May to mid-July
                            Early August to early October
Hibernation:   Overwinters as a larva.



Life Cycle of  the Small Heath


The newly laid egg is pale green and nearly spherical, measuring c.0.7 mm in height.
The eggs are laid singly in summer and again in autumn on blades of  various grasses,  gradually becoming 
translucent white with rusty mottling before hatching after c.14 days.


The adult larva measures up to 20 mm in length and tapers towards the rear.
The body is green with a dark-green mediodorsal line on either side of  which is a dark-edged whitish line.
A greenish-white line extends along each side below the level of the spiracles.
The head is rounded and green and the anal  points are pinkish.

There are two broods annually and possibly a third lasting into October. 
After hatching the larvae feed on various grasses.  They rise to the top of  the plant to feed by night 
and  rest at its base by day.

Larvae of  the first generation are fully grown in c.5 weeks and go on to pupate,  producing adult 
butterflies the following August and September.
Most of  the second generation larvae, after feeding and growth, go into hibernation,  Overwintering as 
late-instars about September/October and completing their development the following spring.  They
change to feeding  by day and, when fully grown,  go on to pupate about April.


The pupae are suspended from the stems of  the foodplant and  butterflies emerge within c. 3 weeks.


Adults are seen on the wing from the end May to mid-July and from early August to early October.  
In some locations a third  brood may occur,  lasting into October.  When there is more than one annual brood 
the adult flight  periods may overlap and are thus difficult to distinguish.
They feed on a variety of flowers.

Small Heath, © D Hardiman

© DHardiman 2004 




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

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