Insects on Bookham Commons

Bookham Commons is renowned for the diverse butterflies it hosts. An estimated 30 of the 59 species in the UK can be found on the Commons, this includes Britain’s second largest butterfly the Purple Emperor. Many other species of insects can also be found in the different habitats of the Commons. The featured image is a Willow Emerald Damselfly, Chalcolestes Viridis.

Purple Emperor

The Purple Emperor, Apatura iris, is extremely elusive, however, they are regular resident of Bookham Commons. Typically, they can be seen between July and August.  

Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, is typically found in the South of the UK and in Ireland. The distinct colours of this butterfly can be seen from late June through to the end of August.

Painted Lady

The Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, may be seen between April and October. This butterfly arrives in the UK following a migration from Europe and Africa.

The Brown Hairstreak

Bookham Commons is a well-known hotspot for the Brown Hairstreak, Thecla Betulae.  Found on the Plains and Banks Common in July and August, they lay their eggs on Blackthorn bushes. The distinctive underwing is the most outstanding feature.

The Purple Hairstreak

The Purple Hairstreak, Favonius quercus, is a familiar woodland species that can be seen between June and August. This butterfly may be difficult to spot as they spend most of the time in the tree canopy. Though, they occasionally come to ground, especially after rain.

The Brimstone

The Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni, is a species which also hibernates. Adults emerge as soon as favourable conditions allow, sometimes as early as January or February.

The White Admiral

The White Admiral, Limenitis camilla, can be seen between June and August on the Commons. This woodland butterfly feeds on the flowers of bramble, allowing close observation.

The Small Tortoiseshell

The Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae, is a familiar and attractive species  seen in early Spring as it emerges from hibernation.

The Peacock

The familiar Peacock, Aglais io, is a gaudy species and often one of the first butterflies of the year to be seen. This is because the adults hibernate, emerging at the first signs of Spring sunshine.

The Broad Bodied Chaser

The Broad bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa, can often be seen patrolling the pond margins or perching on nearby vegetation between May and August.

The Comma

The Comma, Polygonia c-album, is a very distinctively shaped species which can typically be seen from Spring to Autumn. As a butterfly that hibernates, it will be on the wing as soon as favourable conditions allow.

Beautiful Demoiselle

The Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo, are the giants of the Damselfly species. They are also one of the few with vibrant colours, seen between May and August.

The Ruddy Darter

The Ruddy Darter, Sympetrum sanguineum, is a bright crimson dragonfly. They can be seen perching on prominent vegetation by ponds on the Common from June to September.

Bumble Bee

The Bumble Bee, Bombus Spp, is a vital part of any ecosystem as a pollinator. These hairy insects can be spotted from spring until late August.

Emperor Dragonfly

The Emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator, is a large and bright coloured dragonfly found near water sources. Typically, they can be seen between June and August.


Stag Beetle

The Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus, is the largest beetle in the UK. It has humongous jaws that it uses to attract mates and fight off competition. Stag beetles can be found between May and August.