On a hot summer’s day, find yourself a grassy hillside and watch as a cloud of blue butterflies tumbles around you. Come across a small blue in early summer, or spy a holly blue fluttering near some holly or ivy in your own parks and gardens. If you’re up for more of a challenge, visit a special handful of locations for a chance at spying a rare large blue. In the best years at the best sites, blue butterfly numbers can be breathtaking.
Butterflies are at their best on a still, sunny day. Wind or rain are not the butterfly-watcher’s friend!
Find blue butterflies near you
Following its UK extinction in 1979, the large blue was re-introduced to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire in 2002 and this special site now boasts the largest population in the country of this rare butterfly.
- Alderney, Longis Nature Reserve
- Bedfordshire, Blow’s Downs, Totternhoe
- Berkshire, Wildmoor Heath
- Buckinghamshire, Yoesden
- Dorset, Upton Heath, Fontmell Down, Tout Quarries, Tadnoll and Winfrith
- Gloucestershire, Daneway Banks
- Hampshire, St Catherine’s Hill
- Isles of Scilly
- Isle of Wight, Arreton Down
- London, Hutchinson's Bank
- Norfolk, Roydon Common and Grimston Warren
- Oxfordshire, Hartslock
- Suffolk, Blaxhall Common
- Surrey, Sheepleas
- Sussex, Ditchling Beacon, Malling Down (Chalkhill, Adonis, and common blues), Southerham, Levin Down
What to look for
Look for the caterpillar’s food plants and flowers where butterflies will be finding nectar. Bird’s-foot trefoil, horseshoe vetch, rock-rose and knapweeds are all favourites. The common blue, chalkhill blue, and Adonis blue can be seen on the wing together on grasslands, while heathlands provide the perfect home for silver-studded blues. While males are strikingly blue, females are less conspicuous, and may be completely brown in southern England. On dull days, look out for butterflies resting on grass stems.
If you can't get to these places
Most of the blues are restricted to some special places, mostly in the south of England, but the common blue can be found throughout the country. The holly blue is a frequent garden visitor in England and lowland parts of Wales, feeding on holly and ivy.
More wildlife experiences
From seeing colourful wildflowers to spotting magnificent birds of prey, we can help you get closer to wildlife across the UK.