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Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria)

Speckled wood butterflies are chocolate-brown with creamy-yellow eye spots on the wings. They can been seen in woodlands and gardens throughout much of the UK.

Common name: speckled wood, Enfield eye, wood argus

Latin name: Pararge aegeria


Caterpillars: bright green with faint, darker green and yellow stripes.

Adults: medium-sized butterfly with dark-brown wings with creamy-yellow eye spots. There is one black and white eyespot on the forewing and three on the hind. 

Wingspan: 5cm.

Food plants

Caterpillars: various grasses.

Adults: honeydew secreted by aphids. Rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low.

When to spot them

 April to September.

Where to spot them

You’ll find speckled wood in woodlands and gardens throughout much of the UK. Look for them in dappled glades, hanging out in a puddle of light where the sun pierces the tree canopy as they wait for a mate.

Top Woodland Trust woods for speckled wood

You can get a piece of the action at Trust woods throughout Wales – all the way from romantic Cefn Ila, near Usk in Monmouthshire, to panoramic Coed y Gopa, at Abergele in Conwy. Speckled woods also inhabit Coton Wood near Swadlincote in Derbyshire; Carnmoney Hill overlooking Belfast; and our Balmacaan and Ledmore & Migdale estates in the Scottish Highlands.

Discover speckled wood in other woods too. To find woods near you, type your town or postcode into our search box.

Fascinating speckled wood facts

  • Speckled woods are unique among butterflies in that it can spend the winter either as a caterpillar or a chrysalis.
  • Males are fiercely territorial and easily roused by any pretender that happens upon his turf: when that occurs, the rivals spin up through the woodland understorey in fluttery combat, until the interloper is (usually) driven away.
  • Female speckled woods are unusually choosy for butterflies – and they mate only once in their short lives.