Small heath Coenonympha pamphilus

The small heath is a small, inconspicuous butterfly of heathland, moorland, grassland and coastal habitats.It is a small, fairly shy, beige and grey butterfly, with one eyespot on the forewings. It is most likely to be confused with day-flying moths.


Small heath adults are on the wing throughout the summer in two or three broods and fly only in sunny conditions, settling close to the ground. Caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses such as fescues and meadow-grasses.


  • Wingspan: 3.3-3.7cm


Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Found throughout the country.

When to see

April – September


  • The closely related large heath is a butterfly of boggy moorland and is also a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • The small heath always rests with its wings closed, making identification a challenge unless you catch one in flight.

Common name

Small heath

Species name

Coenonympha pamphilus

IUCN Red List status


When to see in Scotland

April – September

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Dumbarnie Links or Ballachuan Hazelwood.

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