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
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

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