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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Purple Hairstreak Neozephyrus quercus


The Purple Hairstreak is found in deciduous woodlands, spending the majority of its time high in the canopy of mature oak trees on which it depends, but it can also be found in parkland or commons and hedgerows where a single mature oak can support a colony of these butterflies. It is fairly widespread throughout southern Britain, being more locally distributed further north and is locally common or abundant where it does occur. It is probably under-recorded owing to its secretive habits.


Appearing silvery in flight from the silver-grey underside of the wings, it occasionally basks in the sun with its wings open, revealing the beautiful purple sheen of the upper wings on the males, and the less eye-catching purple patches of the females. The undersides of both sexes are similar and display the characteristic white lines and orange spots of several of the other British hairstreaks.

Flight times

The Purple Hairstreak is single brooded and overwinter as eggs, with adults emerging in mid to late July and flying until September.

Food plants

Eggs are laid on oaks.

Purple Hairstreak - © Christine Maughan cut out picture of purple-hairstreak butterfly

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 34
First sighting 23/06/2010
Last sighting 22/08/2010
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 28
First sighting 01/06/2011
Last sighting 09/09/2011
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 19
First sighting 09/07/2012
Last sighting 14/09/2012
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 56
First sighting 01/07/2013
Last sighting 21/09/2013
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 51
First sighting 25/06/2014
Last sighting 20/08/2014
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14


Photo Gallery

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak © Christine Maughan

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak © Christine Maughan

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak © Simon Jenkins

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak © Howard Williams

Purple Hairstreak Purple Hairstreak Purple Hairstreak Purple Hairstreak
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Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

Old and overmature Green Hairstreak can loose much of their green colouration, leaving only a dull brown. This can cause confusiton with other small brown butterflies.

A worn Green Hairstreak lacking most of its green colouration
A worn Green Hairstreak lacking most of it's green colouration - © Simon Jenkins
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