With its mix of varied habitats confined to a relatively small area, the Isle of Wight supports many of the species of butterflies that are native to Britain and the sites where they are found can also be accessed with ease.

Although butterflies can be seen most months of the year it is the summer that is, perhaps, the most enjoyable time to look for them, and especially on our chalk downs that not only provide stunning views but also the chance to see some of our most iconic species.

Probably the best example of a summer butterfly would be the Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon) found anywhere along the Island’s central chalk ridge from West High Down through to Bembridge Down but especially on Arreton Down where up to 50,000 have been recorded in a single day.

The pale blue upperwings of the male are unmistakable and not to be confused with any other blue butterfly but the chocolate brown colour of the females is similar to some other species.

Another distinctive downland butterfly is the Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaga), again found along the chalk ridge but not in particularly high numbers, Brook Down is one of the best sites. The green underwing is where its name comes from.

Moving away from the downs and into the mature woodlands of the Island can be found the easily identifiable White Admiral (Limenitis Camilla) with the black and white upperwings and distinctive orange and white underwings.

Walter’s Copse at Newtown, Parkhurst Forest or Firestone Copse are all good sites.

Another butterfly found in our woodlands is the spectacular Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia), the largest British fritillary and again unmistakable.

The upperwings are a bright orange with black lines and dots over it, the underwing looks as though it has had a watercolour wash of pale green and silver, hence its name.

There is also, however, a very distinctive and beautiful form of this butterfly called Valezina that is completely unlike the usual form. They are always females and the normal orange ground colour of the upperwing is replaced with a dusky green and the underwings have a pink hue to them. Easily seen especially when in flight, Walter’s Copse is the place to look for them.

Summer butterflies are a joy to behold especially in and along the unspoilt areas of countryside that we are still able to enjoy in the Island.