Green Hairstreak

Callophrys rubi (KA-loh-friss ROO-by)

Green Hairstreak - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 12-May-2015
Photo © Neil Hulme
 

Wingspan
27 - 34mm

Checklist Number
61.005

Family:LycaenidaeLeach, 1815
Subfamily:TheclinaeButler, 1869
Tribe:EumaeiniDoubleday, 1847
Genus:CallophrysBillberg, 1820
Subgenus:  
Species:rubi(Linnaeus, 1758)

< Previous SpeciesNext Species >

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 sun's rays. This butterfly is found throughout the British Isles - 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).

Green Hairstreak male - West Yatton Down, Wiltshire 3-May-2015 [Damian Pinguey]

Male
Photo © Damian Pinguey

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 seen ovi-posting), 20/05/2016, Noar Hill

Female Underside
Photo © Pauline

Photo Album ...


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).

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, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Broom, Common Rock-rose, Dogwood, Bramble and Gorse.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

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.

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.

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

Callophrys rubi

Green Hairstreak -  Heyshott Escarpment 14 May 2016

Photo © Susie

Green Hairstreak - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 4-May-2014

Photo © Neil Hulme
04-May-2014

Green Hairstreak pair - South Downs, Sussex 14-May-2010

Photo © Neil Hulme
14-May-2010

Green-Hairstreak- I9T4154 Lincs coast 22 April 2011

Photo © IainLeach

Green Hairstreak Male - Coulsdon, Surrey 19-April-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2010

Green Hairstreak - Ryton Woods May 26th 2012.

Photo © Nigel Kiteley
26-May-2012

Green Hairstreak - imago - Thatcham - 15-April-09 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Apr-2009

Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 02-May-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
02-May-2015

Green Hairstreak, Rake Bottom, 28/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
28-Apr-2015

Green Hairstreak - Wrecclesham, Surrey 12-May-2013

Photo © Pauline
12-May-2013

Green Hairstreak, Rake Bottom, 28/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
28-Apr-2015

Green-Hairstreak- 5D35680. Leics April 2015.

Photo © IainLeach

Green Hairstreak - imago - Bill Smyllie Reserve - 15-May-04 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
14-May-2004

Green Hairstreak, female ovi-posting, Noar Hill, 15/05/2016

Photo © Pauline
15-May-2016

Green Hairstreak Male - Chaldon, Surrey 21-April-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Apr-2011

Green Hairstreak - imago - Greenham Common - 02-May-15-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
02-May-2015

Green Hairstreak Mating Pair - Hawnby, North Yorkshire 17/05/2014

Photo © Graham Beckwith
17-May-2014

Green Hairstreak Male - Ailwood Down, Dorset 19-May-08

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2008

Green Hairstreak - Isle of Wight - 14th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
14-May-2014

Green Hairstreak -  Mill Hill, Sussex 2-May-2013

Photo © Neil Hulme
02-May-2013

Photo Album ...


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 - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [Tim Norriss]

Photo © Tim Norriss

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

Photo Album ...


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.

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.

Green Hairstreak - larva - Stoke Camp - 06-Aug-06 [Chris Iles]

Photo © Chris Iles

Green Hairstreak - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Brian Clegg]

Photo © Brian Clegg

Green Hairstreak - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date [Tim Norriss]

Photo © Tim Norriss

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 - 23-May-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Green Hairstreak - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 25-May-14 [REARED]-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-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]-5

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

Photo Album ...


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

Green Hairstreak pupa (May 2016) - Reared from ovum found on Cannock Chase.   Now released back into the wild.

Photo © Tony Moore

Photo Album ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

Videos


Watch Video
Watch Video
Watch Video

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.