Pararge aegeria | Speckled Wood | Breacfhéileacán coille



Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern (Regan et al., 2010)
Europe: Least Concern (van Swaay et al., 2010)
Climate risk category: Potential Climate Change Risk; present distribution in Europe can be explained by climate to only a limited extent (Settele et al., 2008)

Legal status

The Speckled Wood is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Medium size, wingspan: 46 - 56 mm
  • Large haloed eyes towards rear of upper hindwing
  • Cream blotches on upperside of wings
  • Often found basking in pools of sunlight in partially shaded woodland or woodland edges.


Generalist, found in tall-herb and grassy forest clearings,  field margins, orchards, urban parks and gardens. Adults bask, roost and fly in areas of dappled sunlight, on edges of woodland or close to hedges on the margins of roads and paths (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Flight period

Multivoltine with overlapping generations: typically, the 1st generation flies from April to June, the 2nd generation from July to September and a full or partial 3rd generation from August onwards.

Life cycle

Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves of the foodplant, usually singly, occasionally in pairs. The hatching larva only sometimes feeds on the eggshell, but always stays close to it on the underside of the leaf, and feeds inwards from the leaf margin towards the midrib. After second instar, the larvae may wander between leaves. They feed intermittently both diurnally and nocturnally. During winter the larva usually spends larval diapause in the base of the grass stems, but is also capable of being active and feeding at temperatures above 6ºC.  This species is unusual in that is may overwinter as a larva or a pupa (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

Generalist, the larvae feed on a variety of grasses, but more commonly on False-brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus).

Flowers visited

Generalist, adults primarily feed on honeydew/sap, but nectars sources include: Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) and Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).


World distribution(GBIF)

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



Bond, K.G.M. and Gittings, T. 2008. Database of Irish Lepidoptera. 1 - Macrohabitats, microsites and traits of Noctuidae and butterflies. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 35. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Regan, E.C., Nelson, B., Aldwell, B., Bertrand, C., Bond, K., Harding, J., Nash, D., Nixon, D. and Wilson, C.J. 2010. Ireland Red List No. 4 – Butterflies. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Settele, J., Kudrna, O., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Van Swaay, C., Verovnik, R., Warren, M.S., Wiemers, M., Hanspach, J., Hickler, T. and Kühn, E. 2008. Climatic risk atlas of European butterflies. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.

Van Swaay, C., Cuttelod, A., Collins, S., Maes, D., López Munguira, M., Šašic, M., Settele, J., Verovnik, R., Verstrael, T., Warren, M., Wiemers, M. and Wynhof, I. 2010. European Red List of Butterflies. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.