As its English names suggest, the Gatekeeper (also known as the Hedge Brown) is often encountered where clumps of flowers grow in gateways and along hedgerows and field edges. It is often seen together with the Meadow Brown and Ringlet, from which it is easily distinguished when basking or nectaring with open wings.

The colour and patterning of the wings are very variable and about a dozen aberrations have been named. Favourite nectar sources include Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, ragworts, and Bramble.

It is widespread in southern Britain and its range has extended northwards in recent years. Its range is far more localized in southern Ireland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Browns
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 40-47mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low                          
  • European status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

Various grasses are used, with a preference for fine grasses such as bents (Agrostis spp.), fescues (Festuca spp.), and meadow-grasses (Poa spp.). Common Couch (Elytrigia repens) is also used. The full range of other species used is not known.



Found where tall grasses grow close to hedges, trees or scrub. Typical habitats are along hedgerows and in woodland rides. The butterfly can also occur in habitats such as; undercliffs, heathland and downland where there are patches of scrub.


  • Countries: England, Wales and Ireland
  • Southern Britain and the far south of Ireland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s in Britain: -12%

Gatekeeper - Andrew Cooper

Gatekeeper (male/upperwing)

Gatekeeper (underwing) - Ann Collier

Gatekeeper (underwing)

Gatekeeper (female/upperwing) - John Money

Gatekeeper (female/upperwing)

Gatekeeper (underwing) - Vlad Proklov

Gatekeeper (underwing)

Gatekeeper (male/upperwing) - Tim Melling

Gatekeeper (male/upperwing)

Gatekeeper (female/upperwing) - Vlad Proklov

Gatekeeper (female/upperwing)

Gatekeeper (underwing) - Vlad Proklov

Gatekeeper (underwing)

Gatekeeper (male & female) - John Murray

Gatekeeper (male & female)