Best field guides to use at home: Butterflies

As we continue to enjoy nature close to home, we’ve asked NHSN members to tell us about their favourite field guides for the garden or on nearby walks. In this post Phillip Jordan recommends guides to the butterflies of Britain.


Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland

By John Bebbington and Richard Lewington. 4th ed. Field Studies Council, 2019.
12 pp. Colour photos and illustrations.

Field Studies Council leaflets are light and convenient to carry on a walk. Just try to match the butterfly you see with one of the illustrations.

For details, visit the Field Studies Council website.

Britain’s Butterflies: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland

By David Newland et al. 3rd ed. WILDGuides, 2015.
240 pp. Colour photos and distribution maps.

If you want to learn more about the species, you could look it up in Britain’s Butterflies when you get home. For each species, there is information on the left-hand page opposite photos on the right-hand page. The information includes a distribution map and a life-cycle chart, so that you can check the butterfly you have identified occurs in your area and in which months. One paragraph will tell you how common it is, another will give you identification tips. There is also a list of look-alikes (similar-looking species). In fact, Britain’s Butterflies contains a huge amount of information in a very compact form. With its waterproof cover, you could carry it on your walk if you prefer.

Learn more about this guide and others in the WILDGuides series.

More field guides to inspire you

This post is an extended version of “Field Guides to Inspire You,” featured in our Summer 2020 Special Edition of North East Nature. This special digital-only issue is available to everyone.

View issue

See our full series of Field Guides blog posts for more recommendations.