Streaks Ahead.

Butterfly silhoueete There are a group of butterflies in the UK called Hairstreaks. Here in Cambridgeshire  I’m lucky enough to live within a few miles of four Hairstreak species; Black-letter Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak and Green Hairstreak.

Four Hairstreaks
Black-letter, Purple, White-letter and Green Hairstreaks

As you can see from the above photograph the Black-letter, Purple and White-letter hairstreaks all  have similar markings.

Butterfly side silhoueete Black-letter Hairstreak
Wing Span: 37mm.
Caterpillar: Mid April to Mid May.
Chrysalis: Middle two weeks of June.
Adult: Third week in June to third week in July.
One of the most elusive butterflies in the UK, it’s only found in thickets of Blackthorn between Oxford and Peterborough. There has been a steady decline in the number of these butterflies and as such the conservation priority is now classed as high.

Butterfly side silhoueete Purple Hairstreak
Wing Span: 37 – 39mm.
Caterpillar: Mid March to end of May.
Chrysalis: June to mid July.
Adult: July and August.
Widely distrubuted throughout southern England wherever there are Oak trees. It mainly stays in the upper parts of trees where it feeds on honeydew.

Butterfly side silhoueete Green Hairstreak
Wing Span: 33mm.
Caterpillar: Mid  May to mid June.
Chrysalis: August to April.
Adult: Mid April to mid July.
A widespread species found in small colonies. It’s the only true green butterfly found in the UK.

Butterfly side silhoueeteWhite-letter Hairstreak
Wing Span: 36mm.
Caterpillar: April and May.
Chrysalis: June to mid July.
Adult: Mid April to mid July.
Flies around the tops of trees, particulary Elm trees, it occasionally comes down to ground level to feed on the nectar of plants. Numbers declined in the 1970’s due to Dutch Elm desease but it is recovering well in some areas.

I have found a healthy population of White-letter hairstreaks in local woodland, this gave me loads of photo opportunites for a couple of weeks this summer. Hopefully I’ll get the same opportunity next summer.


Costa Rica
Close up of a White-letter hairstreak


Costa Rica
White-letter hairstreak and Cardinal beetle
Costa Rica
A pair of White-letter hairstreaks

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3 Responses to Streaks Ahead.

  1. blhphotoblog says:

    Lovely to see another blogger with a love of British butterflies, great photography


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