The Green Hairstreak holds its wings closed, except in flight, showing only the green underside with its faint white streak. The extent of this white marking is very variable; it is frequently reduced to a few white dots and may be almost absent. Males and females look similar and are most readily told apart by their behaviour: rival males may be seen in a spiralling flight close to shrubs, while the less conspicuous females are more often encountered while laying eggs.
Although this is a widespread species, it often occurs in small colonies and has undergone local losses in several regions.
Size and Family
- Family: Hairstreaks
- Size: Small
- Wing Span Range (male to female): 33mm
- Butterfly Conservation priority: Medium
- European status: Not threatened
Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium) and Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) are used on calcareous grassland, while Gorse (Ulex europeaus), Broom (Cytisus scoparius), and Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria) are used on heathland and other habitats. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is used almost exclusively on moorland and throughout Scotland. Other foodplants include shrubs such as Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus).
Many habitats including; chalk grassland, woodland rides and clearings, heathland, moorland, bogs, railway cuttings, old quarries and rough, scrubby grassland. This species occurs on a wide range of soils but is strongly associated with scrub and shrubs.
- Countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
- Widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, but not a garden visitor and often difficult to spot
- Distribution Trend Since 1970’s: -29%