Marbled White

Melanargia galathea


The Marbled White is a distinctive medium-sized white butterfly, with black-chequered markings. Adults are on the wing in the summer, from June to August. Strong colonies can be found on warm, species-rich chalk and limestone grasslands, but woodland rides and clearings, railways cuttings and road verges are also frequented. The adults can often be found feeding on purple flowers such as Field Scabious, Common Knapweed and Wild Marjoram. The caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses, but Red Fescue is especially important.

How to identify

Unmistakeable black and white butterfly.

Where to find it

Found on grasslands across southern England and south Wales.


When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

In southern England, Marbled Whites prefer chalk downland habitats - patchworks of chalk grassland, heath, scrub and ponds found on chalk hills. Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands, in particular, have been likened to rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and downland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from scrub-cutting to stockwatching.

Species information

Common name
Marbled White
Latin name
Melanargia galathea
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 5.3-5.8cm
Conservation status