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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

White-letter Hairstreak Satyrium w-album

Habitat

The White-letter Hairstreak is found in woodland edges and rides, and sheltered hedgerows. It depends on elm trees and was severely hit by Dutch Elm disease during the 1970's and 80's. Fortunately the caterpillars have been found to survive on new sucker re-growth as well as fully mature trees, and populations have now recovered in many places, although is still cause for concern. Today it is fairly widespread and locally common throughout most of England, and its range has been extending northwards. Like the Purple Hairstreak it spends most of its time at high level feeding on honeydew, but will come down to nectar on flowers during early morning and late afternoon.

Identification

Both sexes are similar with a distinctive white 'W' on the dull brownish-grey underside of the hindwings. It may be confused with the Black Hairstreak, which has a brighter band of orange and a row of black spots along its inner edge.

Flight times

The White-letter Hairstreak is single brooded and overwinter as eggs, with adults on the wing during July and August.

Food plants

Eggs are laid on a variety of elm species.

White-letter Hairstreak - © Simon Jenkins cut out picture of purple-hairstreak butterfly

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 27
First sighting 19/06/2010
Last sighting 30/08/2010
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 17
First sighting 03/06/2011
Last sighting 14/07/2011
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 11
First sighting 12/07/2012
Last sighting 05/09/2012
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 51
First sighting 05/07/2013
Last sighting 07/09/2013
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 51
First sighting 12/06/2014
Last sighting 29/11/2014
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 65
First sighting 10/05/2015
Last sighting 23/08/2015
White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

White-letter Hairstreak distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14

 

Photo Gallery

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak © Christine Maughan

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak © Simon Jenkins

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak © Simon Jenkins

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak © Simon Jenkins

White-letter Hairstreak White-letter Hairstreak White-letter Hairstreak White-letter 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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