The Sunday Quiz – Butterflies – The Answers

Dear Readers,

Congratulations this week to our joint winners Fran and Bobby Freelove, and Alittlebitoutof focus, who got every single question right! Gold stars to all of you. And congrats also to Sarah, who got every one of the questions that she answered right. Well done you.

Let’s see how we got on with the quiz! The answers are below.

1) (f) – Comma (Polygonia c-album)

2) (b) – Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

3) a) Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

4)(e) – Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

5)(c) Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus)

6) (d) Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Now to the caterpillars. I thought maybe 2 were straightforward, but the others were really tricky…

gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K / CC BY (

7)2) – This is a speckled wood caterpillar. Apparently the two little ‘horns’ at the back differentiate this caterpillar from the millions of other green stripey ones. Well done if you got this right!

AnemoneProjectors (talk) (Flickr) / CC BY-SA (

8) (1) – Comma caterpillar. The larvae are said to resemble bird droppings!

By Dean Morley at

9)5) – Holly blue caterpillar. Rather a scrunched-up little chap, I thought.

By Peter Eeles from

10) 6) Gatekeeper caterpillar

11)(3) Small tortoiseshell caterpillars

Ilia Ustyantsev from Russia / CC BY-SA (

12) 4) Orange tip caterpillar. It is said to be especially well-comouflaged when laying flat along the seed-pods of its foodplant.

And here are the foodplants. Even trickier!

13)4) – Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one of the main foodplants of the orange tip butterfly, along with lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis)

14) 1and 3- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is the main food of both comma and small tortoiseshell caterpillars.

By No machine-readable author provided. Pere prlpz assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5,

15) 2) Speckled wood caterpillars feed on woodland grasses such as false brome ((Brachypodium sylvaticum) shown here: they also feed on Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata); Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus); Common Couch (Elytrigia repens).

By Rasbak - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

16)6) Gatekeeper caterpillars feed on fine grasses such as the common bent (Agrostis capillaris) shown here. They also like fescues and meadow grasses.

17)5) Holly blue caterpillars feed on the flowers and buds of holly when the first brood emerges in spring, while the second brood feeds on ivy.

So, how was that? I think it was our toughest so far, but maybe you are all lepidopteran luminaries.

Next week I shall be trying to think up a quiz that everyone, not just the folk in the UK, can play. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments!





4 thoughts on “The Sunday Quiz – Butterflies – The Answers

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Thanks for the quiz! As luck would have it, I captured a ball of caterpillars yesterday, not dissimilar to yours, but I don’t think they are Tortoiseshells. From the little research I’ve done so far, they could even be moths. Resolving conundrums is much easier when you already have the answers! 😊

    1. Bug Woman

      If they’re spikey they could be peacocks/tortoiseshells/red admirals/painted ladies, but I’m sure you already know that. Keep me posted! Some of my favourite caterpillars are moths…

  2. Bug Woman

    So sweet! Is that Alchemilla they’re on? That might give us a clue. They look like the ‘woolly bears’ that I used to love when I was a child – they were tiger moths I think. Probably best to wait for the next instar to get a decent id…


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