Marbled White Butterfly

(Melanargia galathea)

This distinctive and beautiful butterfly favours unimproved flowery meadows of the type associated with chalk downland. It is also known to have spread to roadside verges, railway embankments and other types of waste grounds. It prefers hot, dry weather and thrives in flower rich grassland where it shows a preference for Wild Marjoram, thistles, scabious and knapweeds. It is to be found throughout most of southern and central England and is still spreading northwards.

Marbled White enjoying Bepton Down flora

The female drops fairly large eggs randomly in July and early August amongst tall fescues which do not suffer disturbance through cutting and overgrazing. These will drop to the ground and will hatch after three weeks. Immediately after hatching the caterpillar hibernates in tussocks from which it will emerge in the spring to feed initially by day and then only at night. Red Fescue forming a tall uncut sward is considered a vital food plant. The caterpillar will pupate in June about eleven months after hatching. The chrysalis stage lasts for two to three weeks.

The Marbled White is one of our most distinctive with its beautiful colouration and striking wing pattern.

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