Butterfly Conservation
saving butterflies, moths and our environment
Butterfly Conservation - saving butterflies, moths and our environment

Please remember, you can raise money for your favourite Butterfly Conservation Branch every time you shop online simply by clicking on the easyfundraising.org.uk logo first and selecting:
"Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch".

2018 First sightings

0 Species to date
* indicates a national first

Green Hairstreak *
18 April

Holly Blue
14 April

14 April

Grizzled Skipper *
14 March

Large White
11 April

Green-veined White *
3 April

Speckled Wood
31 March

Small Copper*
14 March

Painted Lady*
6 March

Large Tortoiseshell
15 March

Small White
13 March

Painted Lady
6 March

Small Tortoiseshell
16 February

25 January

Comma *
10 January

10 January

Red Admiral
10 January

Atlas Sites

Sites are listed according to their number in the "The Butterflies of Sussex". Sites which have been reported from in 2018 are coloured green.

1Stansted Forest
SU 74700 10500
2Harting Down
SU 79096 18002
3Kingley Vale
SU 82460 11093
4Levin Down
SU 88653 13378
5Heyshott Escarpment
SU 89900 16800
SU 92797 19351
7Eartham Wood
SU 94301 11051
8Rewell Wood
SU 98540 08053
9Fairmile Bottom
SU 98835 09454
10Houghton Forest
SU 99448 11553
11Medley Bottom
TQ 04400 11600
11Wolstonbury Hill
TQ 28100 13800
TQ 07000 12500
13Chantry Hill
TQ 08060 12533
TQ 13891 08024
15Steyning DS
TQ 16818 11325
16Anchor Bottom
TQ 20400 09300
17Mill Hill
TQ 21167 07456
TQ 23612 11325
19Benfield Hill
TQ 26167 07852
20Devils Dyke
TQ 26176 10681
TQ 27021 11652
23Hollingbury Park
24Whitehawk Hill
25Bevendean Down
TQ 33800 06400
26Castle Hill
TQ 37015 06996
SU 92096 29374
28Malling Down
TQ 42164 11255
29Well Bottom
TQ 45300 05500
30Newhaven Tide Mills
TQ 45999 00260
31Frog Firle farm/ High and Over
TQ 50916 01097
32Cuckmere Valley
TV 51613 98238
33Deep Dean
TQ 54300 03000
34Lullington Heath
TQ 54473 01754
35Friston Forest
TQ 51879 00174
36Beachy Head
TV 59467 96037
37Weavers Down
SU 81300 30400
38Chapel Common
SU 8194 2861
39Iping & Stedham Common
SU 85234 21996
40Thorney island
SU 76700 01000
41Binsted Wood
SU 99403 06629
42Ebernoe Common
SU 97576 27836
43Southwater Woods
TQ 15729 25765
TQ 15590 21737
TQ 17200 32700
46West Grinsted Downs Link
TQ 18251 23147
47Woods Mill
TQ 21836 13811
48Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve
TQ 31867 20558
49Markstakes Common
TQ 40116 18362
50Rowlands Wood & Park Corner Heath
TQ 51482 14924
51Abbots Wood
TQ 55781 07267
52Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadows
TQ 31828 24794
53Ashdown Forest
TQ 45901 27803
54Eridge Rocks/Old Park
TQ 55454 35509
55Hargate Forest
TQ 57445 36918
56Batts Wood
TQ 63783 27505
57Fore Wood
TQ 74700 13100
58Brede High Woods
TQ 79400 20200
59Hastings Country Park
TQ 84931 11732
60Beckley Woods
TQ 85800 21900

Send in your sightings

Recent sightings in Sussex

Spring is here!

You can forget about both the meteorological and astronomical seasons, the Butterfly year has its own calendar.

  • Spring
  • June
  • Summer
  • Winter of the empty skies

Butterfly spring always begins on Orange-tip day, which in 2018 was 14th April. Whilst some other spring species may come out earlier, there is just something about the Orange-tip that makes you believe that winter is over and the skies will soon fill with an abundance of butterflies.

On the left of this page, below the first sightings, I have put a list of the sixty butterfly sites recommended in the back of the "Butterflies of Sussex". These sites cover almost the whole of Sussex. We never get any sightings from many of these sites, so my challenge to you all as a group is to post at least one sighting from each of these sites in 2018. It will help me when posting if you could mention that it is an Atlas site that has not been visited yet.

Ed jnr

Thursday 19 April

A quick visit to Devil's Dyke gave me 6 Green Hairstreaks. I'm sure there were more, I just checked a small area. Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones, Speckled Wood and Orange-tip also seen. (Mark Cadey)

Today (19 April) I started at North Stoke, which remains so boggy that it's very difficult to move around without losing a welly; unfortunately the site will remain difficult to access this spring. Orange-tip numbers were disappointing, with only a couple seen. Green-veined White is doing rather better (15m, 1f). I then moved on to Mill Hill, where Katrina and her sister were already scouring the slopes. Grizzled Skipper numbers are now building; I counted 8 during a linear walk along the lower scrub line. Highlight of the visit was a very obliging Green Hairstreak. (Neil Hulme)

My sister and I went to Mill Hill this afternoon in the heat. We were fortunate to bump into Neil who found a very obliging Green Hairstreak (many thanks). Also seen were Speckled Woods, Grizzled Skipper, Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, Commas, Brimstones and a Small and Large White. (Katrina)

Went to the lanes behind Billingshurst yesterday to look for Orange Tips. Lots of cuckoo flower in evidence, and with the help of Katrina who came along we soon found an area with several males patrolling. We were later joined by Neil, then Garry, and Mark paid a flying visit from the road. Because of the extreme heat, the butterflies were very reluctant to pose, but as the sun went down they basked for long enough for us to get some images. Also several Green-veined Whites on the wing, Large Whites, Commas and Brimstone. Paid another visit today which was even hotter. A female flew around and settled on several heads of cuckoo flower, but it appeared she was nectaring rather than laying eggs. After a short time she was spotted by two males, who came close, but she firmly raised her abdomen and, deterred by this sign of resistance, they both flew off. (Nigel Symington)

A visit to Lancing seafront today produced 3 Red Admiral tents containing over-wintering larvae. They were in the same location where I found eggs in October 2016 and larvae in March 2017, which is on nettles in the shelter of south and west facing walls near the main car park. All the tents were fairly modest structures which contained 4th or 5th instar larvae, some of which were visibly active. Other sightings were 4 Brimstones, 4 Small Whites and a Comma. (Vince Massimo)

Between 11am & noon today while I had an extended coffee break watching a silent little warbler (probably a chiff chaff) combing and re-combing our apple tree for insects, our back garden in Hove was also visited by a white, a Comma and a Holly Blue. The Holly Blue sighting was 6 days earlier than last year's first sighting. In the afternoon we went to Wish Park and saw 2 whites (at the same time) plus a rarity in our urban area, a Brimstone (male). (John & Val Heys)

Tried out my new Olympus Macro lens and my recently resurrected moth trap. Some of the fab moths i caught last night, even some of the drab looking ones show in detail , beauty that will give many butterflies a run for their money .
(Richard Roebuck)

Roedean Old 9-hole Site, TQ 34852 03080. 1 Comma and 23 Green-veined Whites between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm. The butterfly bank is covered in Cowslips which looks quite nice. They haven't started spreading to other parts yet. (Graeme Rolf https://www.flickr.com/photos/128321708@N03/albums/72157649396241380)

Started my walk from Brighton railway station along The Greenway where I saw a Brimstone and 4-5 Small Whites. Then crossed Preston Park where I only saw one small sized white butterfly but then Hollingbury Park and Woods (Atlas site I believe) had more to offer: 4-5 Small White, 2 Large White, one Comma, one Peacock and one Small Tortoiseshell. The most interesting for me due to being the first of the year were the 2 Speckled Wood. I also found a tiny moth but no clue what that might be called. (Istvan Radi)

Only a short time available this morning. The Green veined White sighting completes the list
of Butterfly species one would normally expect to find along the Cuckoo trail, in Hailsham,
at this time of year. The Speckled Woods shut their wings tight on landing because of the heat. (Trevor Rapley)

Yesterday (18 April) I arrived at my favourite Orange-tip site (near Five Oaks) at about 2.00 pm, with my car's thermometer reading 24.5 degrees. Katrina Watson and Nigel Symington were already there, but reported fewer butterflies than I was expecting, and within a few minutes the two Orange-tips in view had disappeared. I soon came to the conclusion that it was just too hot for them, and that they had gone into hiding. This was confirmed when we found one asleep on the woodland edge. It was after 3.00 pm before about half-a-dozen males and one female became more active. Garry Philpott then arrived, and the four of us took turns in trying to achieve the desired open-wing shot. Too hot in April - a nice problem to deal with - and a lovely way to let a few hours drift away in the pursuit of Britain's happiest butterfly. (Neil Hulme)