Butterflies of Scotland
- Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)
The Wall Brown is aptly named after its habit of basking on walls, rocks, and stony places. The delicately patterned undersides look like tree bark or mottled stone, with a row of false eyes and provide good camouflage against a stony or sandy surface.
The upper sides of the Wall Brown wings are Orange and brown with a prominent eye spot. It is a similar size (4.5cm / 1.8 inches) and colour to the Gatekeeper, but the Wall is much more heavily patterned.
In hot, sunny weather, males patrol fast and low over the ground, seeking out females. In cooler weather, they will bask in sunny spots and fly up to intercept females, or to drive off other males. In cool, dull weather, the males bask in the brightest spots for the same purposes.
The Wall requires short grassland where the turf is bare broken or stony. It occurs on dunes and other coastal habitats such as undercliffs and rocky foreshores as well as disturbed land such as railway embankments and cuttings, disused quarries, derelict land, and sometimes gardens.
The Wall is widely distributed, but rarely occurs in large numbers. Over the last ten to fifteen years it has declined substantially in many inland areas of central England and Northern Ireland and also appears to be declining in southern coastal localities but with a slight spread into southern Scotland (mainly coastal fringes of Dumfries & Galloway and south Ayrshire and east coast of Scottish Borders) probably due to global warming. The Wall Brown is a UK Priority Species for conservation due to the continued loss of habitat and resulting drop in population.
The butterfly appears from May to September in two successive broods, the first appearing from mid-May to late June and the second from early August into September. Early caterpillars develop in a month but late summer ones hibernate, eating intermittently until spring. The butterfly lives for about three weeks.
The larval foodplants consist of various grasses including: Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Wavy Hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus) and bents (Agrostis spp).
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