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Gatekeeper Butterflies

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Male Gatekeeper Butterfly

Quick Facts

Scientific name:  Pyronia tithonus

Size:  Wingspan approx 40mm

Distribution:  Found throughout England and Wales.  Gradually spreading into Scotland

Months seen:  July to September

Habitat:  Hedgerows, roadsides and bramble thickets

Food:  Nectar.  The caterpillars feed on various meadow grasses

Special features:  Sometimes called the 'hedge brown butterfly'.  The gatekeeper has orange wings with a thick brown border.  In the corner of the forewings is an oval black patch with two white spots inside it.  On the hindwings is a smaller black dot with one white dot inside it.  The males have a black band of dark scales across the forewings.  This is absent in the females.

The undersides of the wings look very similar to those of the Meadow Brown except the hindwings of the gatekeeper have a row of white dots.  The meadow Brown has black dots.  The undersides of the wings are pale colored in the females and darker in the males.

The caterpillars can be found from January to late June.  They vary in colour from dusty green to grey-brown with some cream coloured stripes running along their length.

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