A small and attractive butterfly often seen in gardens, especially feeding on buddleia.
Wingspan: about 50mm.
The wings are orange with a thin border of brown with small blue dots along the sides. At the front edge of the upper wings there is a pattern of black and yellow or orange marks. Small tortoiseshell caterpillars are yellow with dense black speckling and two yellow lines down their back and one along each side. They have black spines along their sides and back.
They are widespread from Europe to Asia.
Caterpillars feed on nettles, spinning leaves together. Adults drink nectar from flowers such as thistles and buddleia.
This species will rest with its wings closed but will open and close them rapidly, flashing their bright colours to confuse and alarm predators.
Small tortoiseshells are not listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List 2000.