Skip to main content

A provisional checklist of European butterfly larval foodplants

Cite this dataset

Clarke, Harry (2022). A provisional checklist of European butterfly larval foodplants [Dataset]. Dryad.


Successful conservation of butterflies is dependent on knowing which larval foodplants they use. However, many published lists of larval foodplants have been copied from previous lists, which in turn have been copied from previous lists. Consequently, errors have crept in, and many plant names have long been superseded. This can result in duplicates in the list, with the same plant being given two different names. Most plant lists do not include the authority, which can make it difficult or impossible to identify which plant is being referred to. For the first time, a list of the current accepted plant names utilised by 471 European butterfly larvae is presented, with references. Where possible, errors in previous lists have been removed. The list of larval foodplants doubled from previous published lists. This has resulted in a list of 1506 different plant species in 72 different families. 86 plant records are only known at the generic level. Larval foodplants of 25 butterfly species are currently unknown. Whilst most plant families are utilised by less than six butterfly species, a few plant families are particularly favoured, with the Poaceae and Fabaceae being the most popular. Similarly, most plant species are only utilised by a few butterfly species, butFestuca ovinaandFestuca rubraare favoured by a large number of butterfly species. 20% of European butterfly larvae are monophagous, 50% are oligophagous, and 30% are polyphagous, withCelastrina argiolusable to use plants in 19 different families.


Searching the literature for larval foodplants, and checking with the WCVP version 4 to find the current accepted plant name.

Usage notes

The references should be checked to confirm the quality of the information provided.