Small Heath

Coenonympha pamphilus


The Small Heath is a small, inconspicuous butterfly of heathland, moorland, grassland and coastal habitats. Adults are on the wing throughout the summer in two or three broods and fly only in sunny conditions, settling close to the ground. Caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses such as fescues and meadow-grasses.

How to identify

The Small Heath is a small, fairly shy, beige and grey butterfly, with one eyespot on the forewings. It is most likely to be confused with day-flying moths.

Where to find it

Found throughout the country.


When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Populations of the Small Heath are declining, making this a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Wildlife Trusts manage many heathland, grassland and coastal habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies. We are also working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We have a vision of a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Small Heath
Latin name
Coenonympha pamphilus
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 3.3-3.7cm
Conservation status
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.