Butterflies in France

Are you a Lepidopterist?? Do you love butterflies or a collector for Butterflies? Do you ever wonder how these beautiful creatures come to place? This post “Butterflies in France” will pique your interest a whole lot. We also talked about the Introduction to French Butterflies and Popular butterfly species in France. As well as the Butterfly life cycle and their habitat. Read on as we enlighten you more on this area of interest.

Butterflies are beautiful, rare insects with brightly colored wings that serves as a kind of attraction to people and insects alike. Scientifically, butterflies are called Rhopalocera and they have their own scientific classification. The classifications are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Suborder: Rhopalocera

Just like every other winged insect, butterflies have a 4-stage life cycle. They go from the first stage, which is larvae, then Caterpillars, Pupa and finally Adult stage. As a result of their beautiful wings, Butterflies are usually preyed upon by other insects like wasps, flies etc. Thus, many butterfly species use some kind of camouflage majorly to escape their predators.

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Introduction to French Butterflies

As earlier said, butterflies are very rare creatures which means that they can not be found everywhere and just anywhere. There are Countries and Nations that can’t boast of having seen any single butterfly. However, there are countries where butterflies are in excess and one of those is France. The French have been blessed with the luxury of having so many of this beautiful creature at their disposal. One of the most amazing thing about this is the fact that there are several species of the said butterfly in France.

French Butterflies are not usually the regular kind you see just anywhere. They come in different colors, properties, make and species. More often than not, these butterflies serves as some kind of aesthetic in certain areas. If you have never seen a butterfly or need to see more, then France is your go to place. They have all, if not most of the specie of butterfly that will pique your interest and also enhance knowledge.

Popular Species of Butterflies in France

Seeing that France is basically a home to butterflies, it’s no surprise that they house about 260 species of them. However, about 16 species are considered a no go area. Below are some of the most popular species of butterflies as well as their properties.

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Small Blue

This butterfly specie is scientifically known as Cupido minimus and is a Palearctic butterfly. Unlike the name implies, the Small Blue is not literally Blue per say as their wings are mostly brown. However, the males have a bit of bright blue scales on their wings while the female doesn’t. The wings of this butterfly has a span of 16-27mm thus, the males tend to be the “weaker” sex. Small Blues are usually found in grasslands, abandoned quarries, woodland edges as well as clearings. They usually get their nutrients from plants (female) or minerals from dungs, carrion etc (male).


This specie of butterfly is generally referred to as The Blues and it is one of the most beautiful specie of butterfly there is. Polyommatinae as subfamily recognizes only three groups within themselves. These groups are: Canadalidini, Lycaenesthini, Niphandini, Polyommatini. Just like the name implies, the wings of this specie is lilac blue. Sometimes it is a bright violet blue color or a almost hyacinth blue laced with a black thin border. The female wings are mostly brown with some kind of reddish spot at the edge of the wings and blue beneath. However, it is important to note that the intensity of the colors on this specie is largely dependent on the location.

The Blue is mostly found in flower filled places, warm, open or wooded areas as well. When they are larger in number, you find them on limestone grassland but when small in number, they are usually in meadows and clearings. They mostly feed on plants.

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Marbled White

Gotten from family Nymphalidae, the Marbled White is a medium sized butterfly and its binomial name is Melanargia galathea. Their wings are decorated with white and gray-black or dark-brown markings. Both the dorsal side of the wing as well as underneath have similar designs except that it’s a much lighter gray/brown.  The male and female counterparts of this specie are very alike, however the females have some kind of yellowish lining underneath their wings. They are usually found in forest edges as well as clearings and meadows. Since the inception of time, the Marbled White has had different names. It was called Our Half mourner in 1717 by James Petiver, The Marmoris by Benjamin Wilkes. From the name given by Benjamin, Moses Harris called it The Marmoress.

Orange Tip

Anthocharis cardamines, popularly referred to as the Orange tip is a butterfly from the Pieridae family. Familia Pieridae houses about 1,100 species of butterflies and are majorly found across Europe and Asia. Just like the name, their wings have some kind of orange pigmentation on them. It is important to note that the habitat if both male and female of this specie actually defers from each other. While most males are usually found at forest edges, the females are found at the meadows. This specie of butterfly feed mostly on plants. An amazing fact about this specie is that the mating process is usually controlled by the females. In this specie, females can gives their male counterpart different signals using their abdomen. Although quite beautiful, this butterfly specie females s usually affected by climate change.

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The European Peacock, Anglais io, commonly called Peacock butterfly is a very beautiful and colorful butterfly found in European and Asian countries. There’s also a specie if butterfly called “The American Peacock” however, they should be mistaken for this. While the American Peacock and European Peacock belong to the same family, Nymphalidae, they are very different species. The peacock has a wingspan of 50-55mm and is currently expanding its range. It has a rusty red color at the base of its wings and a black, blue, yellow eyespot at its wingtips. The peacock butterfly are of two species; one in Azerbaijan and another in Japan. They are usually found in woods, fields, parks, gardens etc. Their common source of food is a plant called Stinging nettle and the Small nettle.

Lifecycle of the Butterflies in France

A butterfly has quite a complicated life cycle as not all of them follow the normal growth process. We have reason to believe that the life cycle of a butterfly is strongly dependent on its specie. A butterfly develop through a process called Metamorphosis, a Greek word meaning Change in Shape. There are two kinds of metamorphosis; Incomplete metamorphosis and Complete metamorphosis. While the young of insects that undergo incomplete metamorphosis is called a Nymph, that of the latter is Larva. Thus it is safe to deduce that a Butterfly undergoes a complete metamorphosis.

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Stages of Butterfly life

A butterfly undergoes 4 stages before it is fully formed: Egg, Larva, Pupa and Adult. We shall now look at these stages briefly.


This is the first stage of growth. The female butterfly lays its eggs on a plant which in turn serves as food for the forming caterpillars. Female butterflies lay so many eggs at once as not all of them survives. They are usually very small in size.


This is also called Caterpillar and is usually the second stage of growth. Here, the job of the caterpillar is to eat! Take in as much food as it can. As a caterpillar grows, it sheds its skin about 4 to 5 times daily. Food taken in at this stage is usually stored up for later when undergoing its final stage.


This is usually known as the transition stage. At this stage, the caterpillar stops eaten as it is fully grown already. Sometimes the pupa is usually found suspended under a branch, buried underground or hidden amongst leaves. This stage lasts for a month or even longer, depending on the specie if butterfly.


This is the stage most people are actively aware of and recognize as at this point, its fully formed. An adult and a caterpillar look very very different from each other. While the latter has tiny eyes and short antenna, the former have long legs, long antennae and compound eyes. The adult butterfly can also fly as it already has wings, however, the one thing it can not do is grow. Unfortunately, most adult butterflies only get to live for about a week or two. However, there are species that go into hibernation in winter season and live for several months.

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Habitat of the butterflies in France

Because of the favourable weather of the French, you literally find butterflies almost everywhere you look. There are butterflies on grasslands, in the meadow, forest edge, woodland, railways etc. Depending on the specie of butterfly, they all have different habitats. Some even live on trees and extract their nutrients to survive.

Conservation of Butterflies in France

A butterfly conservation is basically a charity organization dedicated to saving and rescuing butterflies. Just like animals have Animal shelter, Butterflies have butterfly conservation. Butterfly conservations aim to enhance landscape for butterflies and moths. They also enlighten landowners on how to protect a butterfly’s natural habitat.  More often than not, they go about giving lectures and offering helps to landowners and the likes to better protect these creatures.

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Butterfly-watching locations in France

Butterfly watching locations are places you can go to watch different species of butterflies and just appreciate them. In France the best place to go is The French Eastern Pyrenees which house an incredible number of butterflies. It has been said that one can find over 150 species of butterflies in that area. There are also other parks in France that a Butterfly watching session. They even have a butterfly garden located at the Parisian Parc Floral in Paris.

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Importance of Butterflies in our everyday Life

Butterfly are actually more beneficial to us and the society as a whole than we give them credit for. They are not just beautiful to look at, they also do a lot more for us and here are some:

  1. The plants in your garden are pollinated by butterflies
  2. Having butterflies around indicate an healthy environment
  3. Because of their colorful appearance and beauty, they can make us happy
  4. They show the health of an Eco system
  5. They are important in the educational section.


We have established that France is a home to so many species of butterflies, some toxic as well. In addition we have also talked about the most common ones that are in France and where they can be found. The importance of Butterflies have also been made known to us through this post as well as their habitat. Subscribe to our website and leave a comment for more enlightening posts.

See also: https://butterfly-conservation.org/in-your-area/european-butterflies-group

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