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Quick facts

Common name: ringlet

Scientific name: Aphantopus hyperantus

Family: Nymphalidae

Habitat: woodland rides and glades, riverbanks, road verges

Caterpillar foodplants: various grasses

Predators: birds, amphibians, reptiles

Origin: native

What do ringlet butterflies look like?

Adults: a dusky, chocolate brown butterfly with a white margin on the wings and a soft, velvety appearance. There are small circles on the underside of the wings which vary in size and number; usually there are three on the forewings and five on the hindwings. These give the butterfly its name.

Caterpillars: cream with a brown stripe down the centre and covered in hairs.

Not to be confused with: the male meadow brown, which has orange markings and only a single spot on each wing.

Ringlet caterpillar in undergrowth

Credit: Papilio / Alamy Stock Photo

How do ringlet butterflies breed?

The female butterfly lays her eggs in a maverick style, throwing them down in the undergrowth from mid-air. They are pale yellow at first, before turning a light brown colour. Around two to three weeks later the eggs hatch and the caterpillars emerge.

Did you know?

The male ringlet is almost black when young, fading to brown as it ages.

Where do ringlet butterflies live?

Ringlet butterflies favour damp, shaded areas in woodland rides and clearings, as well as road verges and meadows. They are found throughout the UK although they are absent from the north of Scotland.

Male and female ringlet butterflies feeding on bramble flowers

Credit: Rod Williams / naturepl.com

Signs and spotting tips

Keep an eye out for their trademark bobbing flight as males patrol woodland rides seeking newly emerged mates. As this species lives in large groups, sometimes over 100 can be seen at once.

Threats and conservation

The ringlet butterfly is not currently threatened and is on the increase in many areas.