5 butterfly eggs to spot and how to see them

Discover how to find and identify eggs of five common butterfly species.

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Orange-tip butterfly egg
Orange-tip butterfly egg © Peter Eeles / Butterfly Conservation

Orange-tip (above)

Description: Greenish-white when first laid, but turn bright orange in a few days.

Where: Eggs are laid beneath the calyx or on a stalk of cuckooflower, garlic mustard. In gardens, the eggs are often found on dame’s violet or honesty.

Hatching period: 1 or 2 weeks.

Best time: End of April – late June.

 

Large white

Large white butterfly eggs © Plazac Cameraman

Description: The yellow skittle-shaped eggs are laid directly on the food plant (rather than on top of other eggs) in batches of 40 to 100 eggs, resulting in an organised egg mass.

Where: the underside of leaves of brassicas, nasturtiums and wild mignotte.

Hatching period: 1 or 2 weeks.

Best time: Early May to mid-September.

 

Brimstone

Brimstone butterfly eggs © Peter Eeles / Butterfly Conservation

Description: Although several eggs may be found together, this is either the result of different females, or the same female revisiting the same spot. Newly-laid eggs are pale green, turning yellow and eventually grey as the larva develops inside.

Hatching period: 1 or 2 weeks.

Where: Laid singly on the undersides of the youngest buckthorn leaves at all heights.

Best time: Early May end of June.

 

Speckled wood

Speckled wood butterfly egg © Peter Eeles / Butterfly Conservation

Description: The spherical eggs are very light green in colour are laid singly, sometimes in pairs, on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant.

Hatching period: 1 or 3 weeks, depending on temperature.

Where: wide range of grasses including false brome, cock’s-foot and Yorkshire fog, growing in warm sheltered places.

Best time: Mid-April end of August.

 

Small copper 

Small copper butterfly eggs © Dean Morley / Butterfly Conservation

Description: resembling a tiny golf ball, the eggs are laid singly, usually on the underside of a leaf. The egg is white when first laid, gradually become grey.

Hatching period: 1 or 2 weeks.

Where: either near the leaf midrib or and sheep sorrel, and occasionally dock leaves.

Best time: Early May to end of August.

 

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