Orange butterfly with a lot of mid brown lines and marks, plus black eyespots with small white dots in centre

Wall Brown. Photo: Brian Arnold

Doing very badly over the UK as a whole, but hanging on in Dorset, mainly in the south of the county.

Where to see

Habitat: Rough grassland with lots of open patches in which it can soak up the sun.

Caterpillar foodplants: Various coarse grasses including Tor, Wood False Brome, Cocksfoot and Yorkshire Fog.

Best places: Mainly confined to the south of the county. Broadcroft Butterfly Reserve and Tout Quarry on Portland; Bindon Hill; Durlston Country Park.

Distribution map

Explore the Atlas to see historical distribution trends for this species.

When to see

Usually double-brooded, sometimes with a small third brood. Can be see from April to October, but peaks in May, then July/August

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:

Browse the sightings archive.


Size: Medium

The Wall Brown is sometimes just called the Wall. Being golden in flight, your first thought on seeing a Wall might be that it is a Comma or a Fritillary, but once it lands you can see the eyespot on the tip of the upperwings, which these others do not have. The Wall likes basking in the sun with its wings open, making this eyespot easy to see. There are also four small eyespots on the hind wing: all are black with small white dot in the centre.

Males will patrol low to the ground when it is hot; when it is cooler, they will soak up the sun wherever they can and fly up to intercept females.

The forewing and the hindwing are different underneath. The forewing retains a lot of the colour of the upperside, but the hindwings are much duller, though with beautiful markings if you look closely: wavy lines of rich brown and a series of six brown eyespots with white centres; the lowest eyespot here may have a double white spot within it. This pattern and colouring gives good camouflage against stony ground.

The male can be told apart from the female by the dark sex brands on the uppersides of the forewings.

Wall Browns are rarely seen in great numbers at any one place, except in the lucky event that you come across them gathering on a high place in what is known as ‘hill topping’.

Photo gallery

Tip: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.

*Note: The charts shown on this page are drawn only from casual sightings submitted to this website. Records from this website will be added to a lot more data collected throughout the year and used to compile the five-yearly Butterfly Atlases for Dorset and the UK.

Find more Wall Brown related content, including news and photos.