Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
The largest populations of this widespread butterfly are to be found on the chalk downlands of Southern Britain so it is no surprise that it is to be found on Bepton Down from late May until late September. It is found throughout the British Isles except for Shetland and is absent above 300m. Intensive farming has led to a decline in numbers. It has had to adapt to other types of habitat including verges, sand dunes and wasteland.
The female will drop her eggs amongst grasses which will include fescues and rye. They are yellow and develop reddish blotches within eight days. They will hatch within two to four weeks but this will depend on the temperature. They will then hibernate. The emerging green caterpillars feed at night and are sometimes slow to mature which extends the flight period of the adult. The chrysalis is attached low on a grass stem giving rise to an adult a month later.