Gatekeeper

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Wingspan 40-50 mm.

As the name suggest they spend much time patroling hedgegrows and corners of fields > They spend much of their time in one place , sun basking or sipping nectar from Bramble Blossom , Fleabane? Key identification are the dark bands accross the orange wing of males and the white spots on the underside of the hind wings in both sexes.

Identification

Medium sized: wingspan 40-50 mm.

Aka Hedge Brown

Both sexes have dusky brown upper sides to their wings with a bright, orange-brown patch on the inner three quarters of the forewings and a similarly coloured smaller patch on the hind wings. There is a single dark brown eyespot towards the tip of the fore wings, which has a double white pupil. There is a dark brown eyespot with a single white pupil on the hind wing immediately behind the orange-brown patch. Males have a broad dark brown scent gland on their forewings. The undersides of the forewings are a paler orange-brown with an identical eyespot to that of the upper wings. The underside of the hind wings is a mid-brown with a dull yellow-brown transverse bar and four small white dots; two towards the leading edge and two towards the trailing edge of each hind wing.

Pyronia tithonus

 

 

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.

 

Behaviour and life history

This species is also known as the Hedge Brown which is rather more descriptive of the species since it tends to be associated with hedgerows where it forms its colonies. It spends much of its time flying around the colony, settling frequently to sun itself on sunny vantage points. Eggs are laid towards the end of July and August and after three or four weeks the caterpillars emerge. The young caterpillars overwinter before pupating in late June and July. Adults emerge in July. The caterpillars feed on a range of grasses.

 

Where to look for it

The Gatekeeper colonises hedgerows, lanes, woodland, edges and clearings but also comes into the citys parks and gardens.

 

Distribution and status

Common and certainly more widespread i

When to look for it

It is most plentiful in July and August.

Similar Species

It is most likely to be confused with the Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina. However, the Meadow Brown only has a single white pupil in its eyespot on the forewing, no eyespot on the hindwing and lacks the orange-brown patch on the hind wing as found in the Gatekeeper.