Quick facts

Common name(s): green hairstreak

Scientific name: Callophrys rubi

Family: Lycaenidae

Habitat: grassland, woodland clearings, heathland

Predators: birds

Origin: native

What do green hairstreaks look like?

Caterpillars: bright green and hairy with yellow markings along its back.

Adults: its wings have bright metallic green undersides with a faint white streak. The undersides can be seen whenever it settles, as it rests with its wings closed. Its uppersides are a dull brown colour.

Wingspan: 2.6-3.3cm

What do green hairstreaks eat?

Green hairstreaks enjoy a wide variety of foodplants. In fact, they have the widest range of foodplants of all the British butterfly species.

Caterpillars: common rock-rose, bird’s foot-trefoil, bilberry, bramble, broom, gorse and dogwood.

Adults: plants including bird’s foot-trefoil, privet and honeydew

How do green hairstreaks breed?

Males are territorial, and during the spring will wait at their selected perching sites for a female to appear. Following mating, females will lay their eggs singly. Eggs will hatch a week later and the young caterpillars will feed immediately. During the summer, the caterpillars will travel to ground level to pupate and spend their winter in the leaf litter. The following spring the new butterflies will emerge.

Credit: David Whitaker / WTML

Where do green hairstreaks live?

Thanks to their varied diets, green hairstreaks can be found in a wide range of habitats. They are often found in woodland clearings, grassland habitats, heathland and moorland. They are widespread across the UK, although there has been a steady decline in the abundance of green hairstreak at monitored sites.

Signs and spotting tips

Keep an eye out for these butterflies in areas with hedgerows and scrub. They can be seen from late March to June.

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