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Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae - Nymphalidae
Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae - Nymphalidae

Small tortoiseshell
The small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae, synonym Nymphalis urticae) is a migratory butterfly species in the family Nymphalidae, the subfamily Nymphalinae and the genus Aglais. This species is widespread and abundant in Europe and Asia up to the Arctic region.
Nymphalidae - Small Tortoiseshell - side face
Nymphalidae - Small Tortoiseshell - side face
The small tortoiseshell can reach wingspans of 40 - 50 mm. The base colour of the wings’ upper surface is orange. The front edge of the forewing bears a pattern of black, yellow and white patches with 1 large and 2 small black spots in the middle. The underside of the wings is black and has markings in different greys and grey-brown colours. The hind wings only bear a black patch. Both pairs of wings, have a pattern of black at the edge. At higher altitudes in, more southerly locations small tortoiseshells are bigger and brighter.
Small Tortoiseshell view from the rear
Small Tortoiseshell view from the rear
The caterpillars are about 30 mm in length. They are black with fine white spots. They have two broken yellow lines on their sides, and their body is purplish-brown in colour. The back and sides are spiny. Small tortoiseshell butterflies drink nectar from a wide range of plants, including Eupatorium and thistles.
Butterfly - Small Tortoiseshell
Butterfly - Small Tortoiseshell
The small tortoiseshell produces 2 to 3 new generations a year. They can be encountered from March to October. They overwinter in protected places. Egg-laying occurs after overwintering, on the undersides of the leaves of the larval food plants, grand nettle, for example. A clutch comprises approximately 50 to 200 eggs. The young caterpillars, which hatch after a few days, are gregarious and live in self spinned tissue. At the end of the larval period, lasting 1 to 2 months, they are living solitarily or in small groups. The caterpillars then pupate. The pupae are brown or light green with shimmering patches and are covered in spines. 12 days after pupating the small tortoiseshell butterfly hatches. Parasitic Diptera pose a threat to the caterpillars. Birds eat the pupae, but not the caterpillars.
Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell with Silver Y
Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell with Silver Y
Aglais urticae
Aglais urticae
Aglais urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Aglais urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Aglais urticae
Common namesSmall Tortoiseshell
German namesKleiner Fuchs, Nesselfalter
Dutch namesKleine vos, Kleine aurelia, Schoenlapper
Danish namesNældens Takvinge
Finnish namesNokkosperhonen
Norwegian namesNeslesommerfugl
Swedish namesNässelfjäril
Spanish namesOrtiguera
Italian namesVanessa dell´ortica
French namesPetite Tortue, Vanesse de l´Ortie, Petit-Renard, La
AuthorCarl von Linné (Carl Nilsson Linnæus), 1758
Eco zoneFreshwater

North Europe (British Isles (United Kingdom (Great Britain (England (South England (Southeast England (Kent (East Kent (Folkestone), North Kent), Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Sussex (East Sussex, West Sussex), Surrey county), Southwest England (Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire, Isles of Scilly, Dorsetshire, Devonshire), Greater London), East England (Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire (Cambridge, Huntingdonshire)), English Midlands (East Midlands (Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire), West Midlands (Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire)), North England (Northwest England (Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire), Northeast England (Northumberland, County Durham), Yorkshire (North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire))), Wales (South Wales (Southwest Wales (Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire), Southeast Wales (Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire)), North Wales, Mid Wales (Brecknockshire)), Scotland (Scottish Highlands (Hebrides), Fife, Northern Isles (Orkney Islands))), Northern Ireland), Ireland), Germany (West Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia)), Scandinavia (Norway (Troms, Finnmark, Vestfold, Aust-Agder, Vest-Agder, Akershus, Buskerud, Nordland, Oslo, Rogaland, Telemark, Hedmark, Hordaland, Møre and Romsdal, Nord-Trøndelag, Oppland, Sogn and Fjordane, Sør-Trøndelag, Østfold), Sweden, Denmark), Fennoscandia (Finland (Åland Islands)), Baltic region (Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)), Iceland), West Europe (Austria, France (South France (Corsica, Occitania (Midi-Pyrenees)), North France (Burgundy-Franche-Comté (Franche-Comté (Haute-Saône)))), Switzerland (Lake Geneva region (Geneva)), Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Liechtenstein, Channel Islands (Guernsey)), South Europe (Italy (Italy Islands (Sicily), North Italy, South Italy (Abruzzo (L´Aquila)), Central Italy (Lazio (Frosinone))), Iberian Peninsula (Spain (South Spain (Andalusia)), Portugal, Andorra)), Central Europe (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic (Moravia, Bohemia), Slovakia), Southeast Europe (Romania, Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia), Serbia and Montenegro (Serbia), Bosnia and Herzegovina), Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Moldova), East Europe (Ukraine, Belarus), Malta
South Asia (Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan), Far East (East Asia (China (West China (Southwest China (Sichuan), Northwest China)), Japan, Mongolia, Korea (North Korea, South Korea)), Southeast Asia), West Asia (Near East (Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq)), Central Asia (Tajikistan, Turkestan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan)), North Asia
Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Transcaucasia
Siberia (West Siberia, Altai, Russian Far East (Sakhalin Oblast (Kuril Islands, Sakhalin (South Sakhalin))), South Siberia (Sayan Mountains), East Siberia (Southeast Siberia (Zabaykalsky Krai), Amur Oblast)), European Russia (North European Russia (Leningrad Oblast))
Norfolk Island
South America
North America
USA (South Carolina, Washington, Massachusetts, New York)
Caribbean islands (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
North Africa
East Africa
Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar)

Fossils: Paleozoic,


West Palaearctic

Distribution by Synonymus:
Vanessa kaschmirensis   Brazil
Nymphalis urticae   Korea
Aglais urticae urticae   West Siberia, Altai
Nymphalis urticae   Saint Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast
CountriesAfghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, USA, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Taxonomic statusHolotype, Allotype
Links and ReferencesAglais urticae in
Aglais urticae in
Aglais urticae in
Aglais urticae in
Aglais urticae in Wikipedia (English)

Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae - Nymphalidae
2. Nymphalidae - Small Tortoiseshell - side face
3. Small Tortoiseshell view from the rear
4. Butterfly - Small Tortoiseshell
5. Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell with Silver Y
6. Aglais urticae
7. Aglais urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)
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Aglais urticae
Small Tortoiseshell
AuthorLinnaeus, 1758
Aglais adumbrata
Aglais alba
Aglais angustibalteata
Aglais brunneoviolacea
Aglais caerulapicata
Aglais clarirufa
Aglais costadivisa
Aglais costajuncta
Aglais cuneatiguttata
Aglais expansa
Aglais fasciata
Aglais flavotessellata
Aglais fulva
Aglais fulvomarginata
Aglais griseomarginata
Aglais ignea
Aglais implumis
Aglais infraradiata
Aglais infuscata
Aglais ioformis
Aglais ioprotoformis
Aglais latericolor
Aglais latibalteata
Aglais lutea
Aglais maculomissa
Aglais magniguttata
Aglais magnilunulata
Aglais magninotata
Aglais magnipuncta
Aglais nigra
Aglais nigricostata
Aglais nigridorsata
Aglais nigrimarginata
Aglais nubilata
Aglais obscura
Aglais ochrea
Aglais parviguttata
Aglais parvilunulata
Aglais parvinotata
Aglais parvipuncta
Aglais polychloroides
Aglais pseudoichnusa de
Aglais punctijuncta
Aglais radiata
Aglais rubrochrea
Aglais salmonicolor
Aglais strandi
Aglais strigata
Aglais subtusbrunnescens
Aglais subtuslactea
Aglais subtusnigrescens
Aglais subtusochreabalteata
Aglais subtusrufa
Aglais subtusvenata
Aglais teruelensis
Aglais tripuncta
Aglais unipuncta
Aglais urticae
Aglais urticae urticae
Alglais testudinea
Nymphalis urticae
Papilio urticae
Vanessa albapicata
Vanessa albidomaculata
Vanessa amploides
Vanessa bellieri
Vanessa bimaculata
Vanessa conjuncta
Vanessa consentanea
Vanessa cruenta
Vanessa dannenbergi
Vanessa derennei
Vanessa elisa
Vanessa erythrophaea
Vanessa extrema
Vanessa falcoides
Vanessa fasciata
Vanessa fervida
Vanessa flavofasciata
Vanessa grueti
Vanessa guhni
Vanessa ichnusa
Vanessa igneaformis
Vanessa impuncta
Vanessa kaiensis
Vanessa kansuensis
Vanessa kaschmirensis
Vanessa leodiensis
Vanessa lucia
Vanessa lucida
Vanessa luna
Vanessa lydiae
Vanessa mesoides
Vanessa monographa
Vanessa neurodes
Vanessa nixa
Vanessa osborni
Vanessa pseudoconnexa
Vanessa pseudoturcica
Vanessa repetita
Vanessa rosacea
Vanessa selysi
Vanessa semiichnusoides
Vanessa sordida
Vanessa splendens
Vanessa subtusornata
Vanessa subtuspuncta
Vanessa teloides
Vanessa thibetana
Vanessa transiens
Vanessa turica
Vanessa urticae
Vanessa victori
Vanessa xanthodes
Vanessa xantholeloena
Aglais urticae baicalensis
Aglais urticae chinensis
Aglais urticae connexa
Aglais urticae coreensis
Aglais urticae esakii
Aglais urticae eximia
Aglais urticae ichnusa
Aglais urticae kansuensis
Aglais urticae ladakensis
Aglais urticae mandschurensis
Aglais urticae nixa
Aglais urticae obtusa
Aglais urticae polaris
Aglais urticae pseudichnusa
Aglais urticae rizana
Aglais urticae septentrionalis
Aglais urticae stoetzneri
Aglais urticae turcica
Aglais urticae urticae
Aglais urticae ussuriensis
Aglais urticae variegata
Aglais urticae velata

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