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Butterfly taxonomy (classification) The skippers The swallowtails The whites The hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Includes the Duke of Burgundy. The nymphalids, fritillaries and browns. Includes the Monarch.
P1030935-800 Green Hairstreak, Wrecclesham, 22/05/2012
Wingspan
27 - 34mm
Photo © Pauline
Green Hairstreak

Callophrys rubi
KA-loh-friss
ROO-by
Number: 61.005
B&F No.: 1555
Family:Lycaenidae (Leach, 1815)
Subfamily:Theclinae (Butler, 1869)
Tribe:Eumaeini (Doubleday, 1847)
Genus:Callophrys (Billberg, 1820)
Subgenus: 
Species:rubi (Linnaeus, 1758)
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  Introduction  

This butterfly is the most widespread of our hairstreaks. However, it is also a local species, forming distinct colonies which can be as small as a few dozen individuals, although other colonies can be much larger. Both sexes always settle with their wings closed, the brown uppersides only ever being seen in flight. The undersides, by contrast, provide the illusion of being green, an effect produced by the diffraction of light on a lattice-like structure found within the wing scales, which provides excellent camouflage as the butterfly rests on a favourite perch, such as a Hawthorn branch. This butterfly will also regulate its body temperature by tilting its wings appropriately to catch the sunís rays. This butterfly is found throughout the British Isles Ė partly due to the wide variety of foodplants it uses, and the wide range of habitats it frequents. However, it is absent from the Isle of Man, Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

Callophrys rubi

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden).


Male
Green Hairstreak Male - Coulsdon, Surrey 19-April-10
Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo
female in flight - Ashley Heath, Dorset
Female
Photo © ronniethepoo
Green Hairstreak Female - Woldingham, Surrey 25-May-10
Female Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

  Phenology  

There is one brood each year, the butterfly typically being seen from mid-April to the end of June, depending on location. Emergence is typically later in more northern sites where this butterfly may be on the wing into early July.


The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.


  Habitat  

This butterfly can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including hillsides, moorland, chalk downland, heathland, railway embankments and valley bottoms. A common feature of all these habitats is the presence of scrubby plants and hedgerows.

This species has the widest range of foodplants of any British species, which includes Bilberry, Birdís-foot Trefoil, Broom, Common Rock-rose, Dogwood, Bramble and Gorse.

  Larval Foodplants  

The primary larval foodplants are Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium), Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria) and Gorse (Ulex europeaus). Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) and Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) are also used.

  Nectar Sources  

Adults feed primarily on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Honeydew / Sap () and Privet (Ligustrum vulgare).

  Imago  

The male of this species is territorial and will have favourite perching sites that it uses to wait for passing females, but will dart out to investigate any passing object. The perches may be on standalone shrubs or part of a hedge and are often reused by different males should the original occupants wander too far. The female, on the other hand, spends most of her time away from the male territories, searching out nectar sources and foodplants on which to lay her eggs.


female in flight - Ashley Heath, Dorset
Photo © ronniethepoo
29-Jan-2009
Green Hairstreak - imago - Bill Smyllie Reserve - 15-May-04 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
14-May-2004
Green Hairstreak - imago - Thatcham - 15-April-09 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Apr-2009
green hairstreak, egg laying on calluna vulgaris
Photo © geniculata
Green Hairstreak Male - Coulsdon, Surrey 19-April-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak Female - Woldingham, Surrey 25-May-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
25-May-2010
Green Hairstreak Male - Chaldon, Surrey 21-April-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Apr-2011
Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 25-Apr-11 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Green-Hairstreak- I9T4154 Lincs coast 22 April 2011
Photo © IainLeach
P1030935-800 Green Hairstreak, Wrecclesham, 22/05/2012
Photo © Pauline
22-May-2012
Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 13-May-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Green Hairstreak - Ryton Woods May 26th 2012.
Photo © Nigel Kiteley
26-May-2012
Green Hairstreak pair - South Downs, Sussex 14-May-2010
Photo © Neil Hulme
14-May-2010
Green Hairstreak - Fleam Dyke, Cambs - 04 May 2013
Photo © NickB
04-May-2013
Green-Hairstreak- 5D35713 Lincs 6 May 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Green Hairstreak - Wrecclesham, Surrey 12-May-2013
Photo © Pauline
12-May-2013
Green Hairstreaks  - Isle of Wight 18-May-2013
Photo © Ian Pratt
18-May-2013
Green Hairstreaks  - Isle of Wight 18-May-2013
Photo © Ian Pratt
18-May-2013
Green Hairstreaks - Isle of Wight 18-May-2013
Photo © Ian Pratt
18-May-2013
Green Hairstreak - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 21-May-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
21-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - Mill Hill, Sussex 11-April-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
11-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak - Mill Hill, Sussex 19-April-2014
Photo © mud-puddling
18-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak - Sussex 14-April-2014
Photo © badgerbob
14-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 4-May-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
04-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - Isle of Wight - 14th - May - 2014
Photo © Maximus
14-May-2014

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

Click here to see a full list of aberrations for this species.

Unclassified Aberrations


Green Hairstreak (ab. caecus), Welshmoor, Gower, Swansea 27 April 2014
Photo © David M
ab. caecus
27-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak ab. - Swellshill Bank, Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire 5-May-2014
Photo © Willrow
05-May-2014

ab. brunnea (Tutt.Brit.Butts.1896.p.196.)

= olivacea Blachier.Bull.Soc.Lep.Gen.1909.1.p.397.fig.

The underside brownish instead of green. Blachier gives olive, although his coloured figure shows an almost black underside.


Green Hairstreak (ab.brunnea) - Hope Gap, Seaford, Sussex 24-April-2011
Photo © Butterflysaurus rex
ab.brunnea
24-Apr-2011

ab. inferopunctata (Tutt.Brit.Lep.1907.9.p.92.)

Well-developed white spots on the underside of the hindwings only.


Green Hairstreak (ab. inferopunctata) - Walton Common - Somerset. 21-April-09
Photo © Denise
Green Hairstreak (ab. inferopunctata) - Ryton Wood Meadows, Warwickshire, 23.05.2012
Photo © nfreem
23-May-2012
Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 08-May-05 (9)
Photo © Pete Eeles
08-May-2005
Green Hairstreak - imago - Magdalen Hill Down - 18-Apr-07 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
18-Apr-2007
mating pair charnwood 24.04.2010
Photo © steveb
24-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 28-Apr-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Green Hairstreak (ab. inferopunctata) - I9T1247 Lincs coast 1 May 2011
Photo © IainLeach
Green-Hairstreak- I9T1715 Lincs coast 1 May 2011
Photo © IainLeach
Green-Hairstreak- 5D35579 Lincs 6 May 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Green Hairstreak - (ab. inferopunctata) - Noar Hill - 15th - April - 2014
Photo © Maximus
15-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak, Rake Bottom, 17/04/2014
Photo © Pauline
17-Apr-2014
Green Hairstreak (ab. inferopunctata) Ryton Wood Meadows Warwickshire 24.04.2014
Photo © nfreem
03-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - Beacon Hill, Meon Valley, Hants 5-May-2014
Photo © Mark Tutton
05-May-2014

ab. punctata (Tutt.Brit.Lep.1907.9.p.92.)

Well-developed white spots on both fore and hindwings underside.


Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - Magdalen Hill Down - 10 April 2011
Photo © Clive
10-Apr-2011
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - Chalkland 17-April-2010
Photo © NickB
17-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - Chaldon, Surrey 22-April-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak male (ab. punctata) - Chaldon, Surrey 21-April-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Apr-2011
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - 03C0521-2 Lincs coast 24 April 2011
Photo © IainLeach
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - 03C3089 Lincs coast 24 April 2011
Photo © IainLeach
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - Seaford, Sussex 27-April-2010.
Photo © badgerbob
27-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) - Danebury, Sussex 24-April-2010
Photo © Neil Hulme
24-Apr-2010
Green Hairstreak (ab. punctata) Rothbury, Nothumberland 07-05-2013
Photo © Graham Beckwith
07-May-2013

  Ovum  

Eggs are laid singly on the foodplant and are a very pale green when first laid, but darken after a few days. Eggs are typically laid on the tenderest shoots or on flower buds. Eggs hatch after a week or two.


Green Hairstreak - ovum - Botany Bay - 26-May-04 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
26-May-2004
green hairstreak egg, on calluna vulgaris
Photo © geniculata
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 25-Apr-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Green Hairstreak Ovum on Broom 15-May-2014
Photo © ABerryman
Green Hairstreak ovum, Paulsgrove, 17/05/2014
Photo © Pauline
17-May-2014
Green Hairstreak ovum
Photo © Tony Moore
Cannock Chase, Staffs. 21.05.14
21-May-2014
Green Hairstreak ovum - Wiltshire - 25-05-2014
Photo © Wurzel
25-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 04-May-14-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
04-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 04-May-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
04-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 11-May-14-4
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 11-May-14-5
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 11-May-14-6
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - ovum - Greenham Common - 11-May-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014

  Larva  

Like the larvae of other Lycaenids, the larva is shaped like a woodlouse. On hatching, the new larva often bores into the tender buds to feed, whereas later instars feed on young leaves and shoots, avoiding more matures leaves altogether. The larvae are cannibalistic after their first moult.


Green Hairstreak - larva (1st instar) - Greenham Common - 11-May-14-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (1st instar) - Greenham Common - 11-May-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
11-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 15-May-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
15-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 20-May-14 [REARED]-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 20-May-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 23-May-14 [REARED]-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 25-May-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-May-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 06-Jun-14 [REARED]-4
Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 06-Jun-14 [REARED]-6
Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 06-Jun-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 07-Jun-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jun-2014
Green Hairstreak - larva (4th instar) - Thatcham - 29-May-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2014

  Pupa  

Like many other Lycaenids, this species benefits from an association with ants that provide it a level of protection and this association extends to the pupal stage. Pupae have been found in the wild covered in particles of soil, believed to have been put there by ants that are attracted to the pupa. Pupae have also been found deep inside ant nests. It has also been suggested that the pupa is formed at the base of plants among ground litter, occasionally attached to a dead leaf by a silken girdle. However, there appears to be little evidence that this is normal behaviour in the wild.

The Green Hairstreak hibernates as a pupa, which distinguishes it from all other hairstreaks found in the British Isles, which all hibernate as eggs.

An interesting characteristic of the pupa of this species, in common with other Lycaenids, is that the pupa is able to make a sound that is attractive to ants, a phenomenon first discovered in 1774. The noises produced by the pupa when it is disturbed are exceptionally loud and audible to the human ear.


Green Hairstreak - pupa - Thatcham - 21-Oct-08 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
21-Oct-2008
Green Hairstreak - pupa - Thatcham - 09-Jul-14 [REARED]-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jul-2014
Green Hairstreak - pupa - Thatcham - 09-Jul-14 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jul-2014

  Similar Species  

No similar species found.

  Videos  

Video © Peter Eeles
Green Hairstreak showing wing-rubbing behaviour
Video © butterfliesonfilm
Green Hairstreak butterfly, Totternhoe Knolls, Bedfordshire 26th May 2013
Video © Philip Wright
Green Hairstreak Basking Behaviour

  Sites  

Click here to see the distribution of this species overlaid with specific site information. Alternatively, select one of the sites listed below.

Sites
Aldbury Nowers, Alder Hills, Allt Mhuic Nature Reserve, Ardley Quarry, Arnside Knott, Ashclyst Forest, Ashlawn Cutting LNR, Aspal Close, Aston Clinton Ragpits, Aston Rowant NNR, Aston Upthorpe Downs, Avon Heath Country Park, Backwarden, Ballard Down, Bannerdown, Banstead Downs, Banstead Woods, Barnack Hills and Holes NNR, Barton Hills, Beachy Head, Beacon Hill, Belmaduthy, Bicton Common, Bin Combe, Bingham Linear Park, Black Rock, Boat of Garten, Bolt Head, Branscombe, Brigstock, Broaks Wood, Brown's Folly, Brown's Hill Quarry, Buckland Wood, Bury Ditches, Calstone Coombes, Cannock Chase, Cape Clear Island, Carpenters Down Wood, Carymoor Environmental Centre, Cashel, Cashel Bog, Cerne Hill Giant, Charnwood Lodge, Chevin Forest Park, Chobham Common, Chudleigh Knighton Heath, Clatworthy Reservoir, Clubmen's Down, College Lake, Cotley Hill, Covenham Reservoir, Craigavon Lakes, Craigower Hill, Creighton's Wood, Cribb's Meadow, Crook Peak, Culm Davey, Dancersend, Danes Moss, Darlands Banks LNR, Dean Hill (West), Denbies Hillside, Devil's Ditch, Ditchling Beacon, Dowrog Common, Duchie's Piece, Duncliffe Woods, Dunsford Meadow, Durlston Country Park, Durlston NNR, Earl's Hill, East Poldens Reserves, East Prawle coast, East Ruston Common, Ellerburn Bank, Feoch Meadows, Fingringhoe Wick, Fleam Dyke, Fontmell Down, Frog Firle Farm, Gibraltar Point NNR, Glen Loy, Glen Moss, Goblin Combe, Grangelands, Granville, Great Torrington Commons, Greenham Common, Greenhill Down, Greenscombe Woods, Gurney Slade, Haldon Butterfly Walk, Ham Common, Hartslock, Hawkswood, Haydon Hill, Headley Heath, Higher Hyde, Hinkley Point Nature Reserve, Hod Hill, Hog Cliff Bottom, Holton Lee, Hordle Cliff, Howell Hill, Hutchinsons Bank, Inversnaid, Ivinghoe, Jerry's Hole, Kilvey Hill, Kingcombe Stones, Lake Trawsfyndd, Langdon Reserve, Langford Heathfield, Lankham Bottom, Larden Chase, Lettermore, Levin Down, Leziate Country Park, Little Breach, Llangrannog, Llanymynech Rocks, Loch Ardinning, Loch Fleet, Long Knoll, Lords Lot Bog, Lydden Down, Lydlinch Common, Magdalen Hill Down, Maldon Wick, Malling Down, Martin Down, Meathop Moss, Mere Down, Moors Valley Country Park, New Bridge, Newbourne Springs, Noar Hill, Old Winchester Hill, Oldboley's Wood, Orley Common, Pembrey Country Park, Pen-fford-goch Pond, Pengwern Common, Penhale Sands, Penlee Point, Pewley Downs, Pexton Bank, Powerstock Common, Prestbury Hill, Prestwood Picnic Site, Priddy Mineries, Quoditch Moor Nature Reserve, Robert's Field, Rod Wood, Roudsea Wood NNR, Ryton Woods Meadows, Saltfleetby - Theddlethorpe Dunes, Sopley Common, Sovell Down, Spaunton Moor, Spean Bridge, Spurn Peninsula, Stock Beck Moor, Stoke Camp, Strawberry Banks, Stubhampton Bottom, Sutton Park NNR, Tadnoll, Telegraph Hill, Tentsmuir Point, The Dizzard, The Stiperstones, Thurlbear Quarrylands, Torr Works, Totternhoe Knolls and Quarry, Tring Park, Tulloch Moor, Twyford Wood, Twywell Hills and Dales, Ubley Warren, Uffmoor Wood, Walberswick, Walsey Hills, Walton Common, Warburg Reserve, Warton Crag, Watersmeet, Watlington Hill, Welsh Moor, West Down, West Hook Cliffs, West Yatton Down, Whipsnade, White Hill Reserve, White Sheet Hill, Wicken Fen, Wiveton Down, Wolfhamcote, Wolstonbury Hill, Wortham Ling, Wyre Forest, Yoesden Bank

  Conservation Status  

Both distribution and population trends show a decline and the conservation status of this butterfly is kept under review as a result.

UK BAP StatusDistribution Trend (%)Population Trend (%)
Not Listed
Stable+6
Decrease-27

The table above shows the distribution and population trends of species regularly found in the British Isles. The distribution trend represents a comparison between data for the periods 1995-1999 and 2005-2009. The information provided is taken from the Butterfly Conservation report The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011. The UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).


  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Billberg (1820) Billberg, G.J. (1820) Enumeratio insectorum in Museo.
Butler (1869) Butler, A.G. (1869) Catalogue of diurnal Lepidoptera described by Fabricius in the collection of the British museum.
Doubleday (1847) Doubleday, E. (1847) List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum.
Leach (1815) Leach (1815) In Brewster: The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.

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