Large Heath

Coenonympha tullia


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French Jura, June 2008

French Jura, June 2008

French Jura, June 2008

French Jura, June 2008. Note this individual has very weak spotting.

This species is quite widely distributed in northern wetlands and heaths but generally uncommon. It is very variable, mostly in the number and size of the spots on the underside. In Scotland a subspecies scotica flies, which is rather like the last picture above, but with even less spotting. In Northern England a much more spotty insect flies.

I saw my first individuals in a large boggy heath in France in 2008. It was a great pleasure, as they were common there and this was my last 'British' species to see - I had never travelled far enough north when I lived in England. However, it also seems to be a very mobile insect and opportunities for photographs were actually quite rare!

On the wing it greatly resembles the small heath but is generally noticeably larger. The underside is distinctive, because although the small heath may have faint spots on the hindwing they are not pupilled and clearly ringed as in large heath.