Gatekeeper - Pyronia tithonus

Alternative names
Hedge Brown

The Gatekeeper has gold wings on a brown background. The black eye spot on the upper wings has two characteristic white 'pupils'. This butterfly spends much of its time basking with wings open, when the sexes are easy to tell apart - only the male has the distinctive sex brands on the forewings (dark smudgy patches on the orange upperwings).

Similar Species

Unlike the Meadow Brown, the Gatekeeper has orange patches on both fore and rear wings. It also has the double white pupils in the eye spot which distinguishes it from both Meadow Brown and Small Heath (which only have one).

Identification difficulty

This species can be found wherever shrubs grow close to rough grassland. In fact, some of the largest colonies can be found at field edges and along hedgerows and we can expect to find this butterfly in scrubby grassland, woodland rides, country lanes, hedgerows and the like anywhere within its range.

When to see it

July and August.

Life History

There is one generation each year, with adults emerging in July, peaking in early August, with only a few adults remaining until the end of the month. The larvae feed on a range of different meadow grasses.

UK Status

This butterfly is found throughout most of England and Wales, being common in the south of its range and becoming scarcer further north.

VC55 Status

Common throughout Leicestershire & Rutland.

59.011 BF1625

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map