Friday, 16 August 2013

Purple Hairstreaks near Newby Bridge, Cumbria

August 3: At an extensive oak wood near here, there are several  places where oak trees come down below road level. The elusive Purple Hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) butterfly, which spends most of the time high in oak trees feeding on the aphid honeydew on the leaves, can sometimes be seen to advantage from such a viewpoint.

In flight, the underside of the wings flash pale grey as distinct from the pale brown colour of their relative the White-letter Hairstreak (usually found in elms) and this helps to identify them. The upper side of the wing is usually shot with blue-purple and can especially show to advantage when the angle of the light is favourable. Seen at other angles the upper-side may appear dull brown. Photos below show some colour effects.

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