50 - 55mm
The male is smaller with a 50 mm wingspan to the female's 55 mm, and he is a much darker and duller brown across the upper wings. He has the usual male sex brand across the forewings showing as a darker smudge, and his forewing 'eyespot' (ocelli) is a small black circle with a white pupil dot, surrounded by a thin orange circle, and a variable sized patch of dull orange. The upper forewings of the female are much brighter, being a tawny orange and similar to the Gatekeeper, the post-discal area being a yellow- orange and containing her eye-spot. This is a joining twin black circle but with only one prominent white pupil dot. The female also has a vaguely yellow band across the hindwings. Both have a pale fringe speckled somewhat with tiny black flecks. The undersides of both sexes are similar but again the female is brighter. The under forewings of both are a bright colour, fulvous orange, then a paler band containing the eyespots with an outer dull brown border. The rear underwings have a large area of speckled brown outlined with a reddish wavy line, the male having a lighter shade in the post-discal area whilst the female colour is quite a pale yellow there and her outer border is also lighter. Both have at least one small black dot in the post-discal area and this can vary in number, but there are never white spots as on the Gatekeeper. The outer edge has some scalloping.
The Meadow Brown butterfly is seen on the wing over a long season although it is a single generation butterfly. The laying of eggs and the various processes are staggered over considerable time, stretching out the flying season from June to well into September, and later on occasion. Each individual adult butterfly usually lives 3-4 days and no longer than a week.
A wide range of flowering plants is utilised for nectaring, the butterfly requiring continual sustenance: these include Marjoram, Hawkbits, Scabious, Knapweeds, Wild Basil, and Bramble.