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
Purple Hairstreak - © Christine Maughan.

Distribution Maps

Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2005-09
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2010-14
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2015-19
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads
First sighting
Last sighting
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 50
First sighting 19/06/2016
Last sighting 07/09/2016
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2017
2017 Summary
No of tetrads 53
First sighting 24/06/2017
Last sighting 25/08/2017
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2018
2018 Summary
No of tetrads 105
First sighting 05/06/2018
Last sighting 22/08/2018
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2019
2019 Summary
No of tetrads 64
First sighting 27/06/2019
Last sighting 23/08/2019
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2020
2020 Summary
No of tetrads 90
First sighting 15/06/2020
Last sighting 21/08/2020
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2021
2021 Summary
No of tetrads 93
First sighting 23/06/2021
Last sighting 21/09/2021
Purple Hairstreak distribution map 2022
2022 Summary
No of tetrads 47
First sighting 11/06/2022
Last sighting 05/09/2022

Photo Gallery

Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

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

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