Belongs to: brown butterflies

Compare with: meadow brown

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Also known as: hedge brown


Best time to see: mid Jul to end Aug

Key facts

A medium-sized brown grassland butterfly

Habitat: rough grassy areas containing scrub, hedgerows, woodland edge and rides

Common across southern England and Wales

Recognition

Upperwings orange with grey-brown borders and a large black eyespot, usually with two white pupils

Jerky, fairly rapid flight, rarely flying across open areas or settling on the ground; wingspan 40–47mm

Seem to prefer yellow flowers such as fleabane or ragwort, also bramble

Lifecycle

Pale, almost spherical eggs laid on grass or vegetation sheltered by shrubs in July/August

Caterpillars feed at night on various tender grasses, hibernating when quite small

Pupate in June/July, the chrysalis hanging below vegetation

  • Main photo
  • mating

Photo © Tony Gunton

Photo © Tony Gunton