Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Green Hairstreak:
Green Hairstreak
Callophrys rubi (Linnaeus, 1758)

Green Hairstreak egg.
  Green Hairstreak caterpillar.
  Green Hairstreak chrysalis
Green Hairstreak
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Lycaenidae: Subfamily Lycaeninae : Genus Callophrys: Species rubi:
This little butterfly is easily overlooked due to its colouration. The upper sides of its wings are brown but this is rarely seen since the Green Hairstreak always closes its wings when not in flight. The green undersides are a vivid iridescent metallic green often edged in tan brown with white spots forming a feint white 'streak' on the hind wings. The extent of the white marking is highly variable and on some individuals almost absent.

Its flight is rapid and jerky making it difficult to follow although territorial males often return to the same perch while the females are more often seen when searching for larval food plants upon which to lay their eggs.

The female lays single pale green eggs into buds of the larval food plants in early summer. The green and yellow larvae drop to the ground to pupate in late summer and overwinter as a pupae with the Adult butterflies emerging in late spring.
The Green Hairstreak is found on calcareous grassland scrubby grassland woodland rides and clearings heathland moorland, bogs, old quarries and railway cuttings.
The Green Hairstreak is an increasingly localised species but widely distributed throughout Britain. It is widespread in the South-west but often occurs in small discrete colonies throughout the rest of Britain where the habitat allows. At some sites, the Green Hairstreak may be found in large numbers while most sites may support only small numbers with only the odd individual being seen. It must be noted however that due to the nature of this butterfly, its colouration and behaviour, it is a butterfly which is easily overlooked and in some localities may be more common than it first appears.

Keep an eye out for Green Hairstreak on limestone (calcareous) sites where Rockrose or Bird's-foot Trefoil grow, especialy in southern Britain. Further north, heathland sites where Gorse, Broom or Dyers Greenweed occur may support a colony while in Scotland, visit moorland where Bilberry occurs.
Where to see the Green Hairstreak in the British Isles
Other notes
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Green Hairstreak in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
--awaiting data-- --awaiting data--

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Least Concern Least Concern

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
UK status
Larval foodplants
The larvae of the Green Hairstreak feed on a variety of plant species depending upon the habitat.

Calcareous Grassland
Rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium) and Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatis).
Gorse (Ulex europeaus) Broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria).
Sutton Park nr Birmingham
Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) and Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and Crowberry (Empetrium nigrum) may also be used as larval foodplants here although this is to be confirmed.
Moorland in Scotland
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus).

Other food plants used include Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix), and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus).
Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
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Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 down by -25%
UK Population trend 1976-2004 down by -25%

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status not listed (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map

Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Green Hairstreak except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Green Hairstreak on the NBN Gateway web site.
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For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Green Hairstreak can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Green Hairstreak can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Green Hairstreak
Image ID BB2033 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak female (imago)
BB2033 ©
Image ID BB2032 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak female (imago)
BB2032 ©
Image ID BB1990 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1990 ©
Image ID BB1989 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1989 ©
Image ID BB1988 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1988 ©
Image ID BB1987 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1987 ©
Image ID BB1986 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1986 ©
Image ID BB1985 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1985 ©
Image ID BB1984 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1984 ©
Image ID BB1983 - Green Hairstreak - © Steven Cheshire
Green Hairstreak (imago)
BB1983 ©
There are 31 photographs of the Green Hairstreak in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Green Hairstreak as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.
Aberrations and forms
There are 7 named aberrant forms of the Green Hairstreak currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. bipunctata - Tutt 1907
ab. brunnea - Tutt 1896
ab. caecus - Geoffroy 1785
ab. cinerascens - Rebel 1910
ab. incompleta - Tutt 1907
ab. inferopunctata - Tutt 1907
ab. punctata - Tutt 1907