Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

10316_male_Var_7May08 27947_male_Var_16Sep11 14640_sex?_Var_15Apr09
15044_sex?_Var_08May09 19473_sex?_Var_06Sep09 3459_sex?_Var_8Aug06
32579_sex?_Var_10Jun13 34986_sex?_Var_27May14  

Common in the UK, but although widespread it does not seem quite so numerous in France even in the south. There does seem to be quite a lot of variation, with some (very) vestigial post-discal spots on the unh, as indicated by these examples. I do not recall there being anything like this degree of variation in UK populations.

I also feel that the French specimens are much brighter, especially the orange of the unf, than UK specimens. The southern form lyllus (see 3459) is much lighter and more sandy-coloured, and the discal line seems complete and with strong contrast either side.

ref sex


alt. m
10316 M

a nice bright orange unf when fresh.

27947 M a well-marked and fresh male. There are three vestigial unh ocelli comprised only of small white spots with darker surrounds. The hindwing is rather square and slightly scalloped. 20
14640 ?

a fresh specimen, with nice orange unf colouring and five rather vestigial unh ocelli.

15044 ?

a beautiful deep orange unf. There are two or three highly vestigial ocelli, almost non-existent.

19473 ?

a rather unusual specimen, with a slightly concave forewing margin (compare with the others on this page), a very large unf ocellus, and a series of six quite well-developed unh ocelli. I have never seen any other pamphilus with even remotely similar ocelli; four are in an almost-perfectly straight line and some are clearly ringed; as usual in most Satyridae species, the ocelli in s2, s3 and s6 are the best developed.

3459 ?

the unh ground colour is a pale smoky brown, with a strong and irregular discal line, and a strong pale-ringed unf ocellus. This appears to be an excellent match for the form lyllus which, according to T&L, occurs in SW Europe, and is described as light sandy brown unh basal and discal areas, ocelli vestigial. 3459 matches the illustration and description very well, so my feeling is rather that the range of lyllus is wider (i.e. T&L is wrong on this point) rather than that 3459 is not lyllus.

32579 ? this is included here because it has an extra small ocellus above the main ocellus, and a smaller blind (i.e. no white centre) ocellus below it. This is rather unusual in my experience, although variations in the ocelli of Satyrid species are not uncommon. 220
34986 ? a rather large pamphilus, roosting for the night. It has particularly well developed ocelli with strong bright white centres. 220