Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)


A pretty orange and brown butterfly, the Gatekeeper is widespread and common across central and southern counties of the England and Wales, often seen in mid-summer basking in hedgerows in the warm summer sunshine, or feeding on nectar from Bramble Flowers, Wild Marjoram or Common Ragwort, although it will feed from many other plants as well.

Gatekeeper Butterfly on Gorse Bush, Kelling Heath

Gatekeeper Butterfly on Gorse Bush, Kelling Heath, Norfolk

Quick Info

  • Family Group: Nymphalidae (Browns)
  • Also Known as: The Hedge Brown.
  • Habitat: Rough grassy places, Hedgerows, Woodland tracks, Heaths, Gardens and others.
  • Wingspan: Around 40mm, although the Female is larger than the Male.
  • Caterpillars feed on: Various grasses in May
  • Adult Butterflies nectar on: Bramble flowers, wild marjoram, Wood sage, Common Ragwort and others
  • Photo Location: Barnack NNR, Kelling Heath, Norfolk, My Garden
  • Photographed: 17th July 2010, above 27th July 2012
Gatekeeper Butterfly, Small Orange and Brown British Butterfly

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) Male – basking in sunshine

Adult Butterflies emerge July – August from just a single brood a season, each colony can vary greatly in size, depending on habitat and location.

The Gatekeeper is often found on rough grassland often close to hedgerows or groups of shrubs, such as woodland paths, Road-sides, Heaths and in Gardens,

The upper-wings are a mainly orange with brown margins on the fore and hind wings with circular eye spots on the fore-wings. The Male is easy to tell apart from the female by the sex brands separating the orange on the fore-wings.

Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) Female

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) Female

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