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A site that hasn't changed for many years, without spraying of pesticides the flora and fauna here is quite unique

Porton Down - Isle of Wight Woods

Pearl-Bordered Fritillary Porton Down Ma
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Pearl-Bordered Fritillary

Forester Moth

Marsh Fritillary

Small Blue  


Meadow Clary 

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Isle of Wight Woods

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Mating Duke of Burgundies

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The Duke of Burgundy can be found on the chalk downland areas and within the woodland areas as well 

Purple Emperor Tower Hill Porton

Even the Purple Emperor can put in an appearance here sometimes, this is a pair mating at Tower Hill where there is some good areas of woodland.


Dark-Green Fritillary caterpillars can be seen wandering over the downland in search of Hairy Violet from the middle of may.

Please Note: This site is not open to the general public as it is an active Ministry of Defence Site.



Porton Down is one of, if not, the best-preserved chalk grasslands in Europe and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The low level of human impact and development has enabled the man-made, semi-natural grassland to flourish and encourage a wide range of biodiversity. As a result, Porton Down boasts many rare species such as the Lady Orchid, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and the Stone Curlew.


An extensive conservation programme at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) site at Porton Down, near Salisbury, has dramatically increased the knowledge and amount of rare wildlife on the site.


A wide variety of flora can be found on the site, these include : White Helleborine, Broad-leaved Helleborine, Common Orchid, Heath spotted Orchid, Greater butterfly Orchid, Fragrant orchid, Bee Orchid, Birds Nest Orchid, Common Twayblade, Lily of the Valley, Deadly Nightshade, Sanicle, Wild Strawberry, Primrose, Aquilega, Violet, Cyprus Spurge, Wood Avens, Salad Burnett and Vipers Bugloss, some of these are extremely rare.

Some of the best areas of Primroses I have ever encountered were seen in Isle of Wight Woods whilst surveying for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.  Carpets of them were encountered in semi-shaded areas under large tracts of Hazel and Silver Birch thickets, this could be the largest woodland colony of Duke of Burgundy in the country.


Butterflies/moths/insects: In the spring there can be found a wide variety of these including Dingy skipper; Small Blue; Green Hairstreak; Speckled Wood; Grizzled Skipper; Small Heath; Painted Lady;  Duke of Burgundy, Marsh Fritillary; Brown Argus; Pearl-bordered Fritillary; Wood Tiger Moth; Forester Moth; Broad-Bordered Bee Hawk and Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth and Garden Chafer Beetle.


In the summer there are some of the best counts of Dark Green Fritillary in the country here  and also the rare Silver Spotted Skipper along with Brown Hairstreak can be encountered in the Autumn.


Nationally rare birds can be seen or heard such as Buzzard; Kestrel; Peregrine Falcon and the Red Kite. The Great Bustard can also be seen as it has been recently re-introduced to Salisbury Plain close by, plus the nationally rare Stone Curlew and more common birds like House Martin; Skylark, Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Willow Warbler; Cuckoo, Jackdaw; Blackcap, and  Chiffchaff can be seen, to name but a few.  

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The woodland floor of the Isle of Wight woods is covered in Primrose, and here the Duke of Burgundy can be seen in exceptional numbers in good years, this is probably the biggest woodland colony in the UK.

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Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth seen in the Isle Of Wight woods on Porton Down a nationally rare moth.

A Green Hairstreak egg on a leaf of Birds-foot trefoil 

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