The Speckled Wood is a common and therefore familiar butterfly, especially in woodland areas as the name would suggest. Its appearance varies depending on its location; butterflies in the North are dark brown with white spots and those in the south are dark brown with more orange spots.

These location variations have given rise to a number of subspecies (like this little beauty here!)  You may not know this but the Isles of Scilly Speckled Wood (P. a. insula) is only found in Scilly!

Female Speckled wood butterflies are monandrous; they typically only mate once within their lifetime. On the other hand, males are polygynous and typically mate multiple times.  In order to locate females, males will employ one of two strategies: territorial defense and patrolling.

These opposing strategies can lead to differences in appearance; most notable variations in the number of spots on their hindwings. Those with three spots are more likely to be patrolling males, while those with four spots are more likely to be defending males!  Additionally wing spots are also influence by environmental conditions. 

The females lay eggs on a variety of grassy plants.

The caterpillars are green with a short, forked tail, and the chrysalis (pupa) is green or dark brown.

The Speckled wood is able to overwinter in two totally separated developmental stages, as pupae or as half-grown larvae. This leads to a complicated pattern of several adult flights per year.