Gatekeeper Butterfly

(Pyronia Tithonus)

Did you know, the Gatekeeper gets its name from the fact it is often found in tufts of grass and flowers near gate posts? 
Gatekeeper Butterfly Cornwall

Quick Facts:

Size: Medium

Wing Span: 40-47mm

On the Wing: Jul - Sept

Other Names: Hedge brown, Small meadow brown, Hedge eye.

Food:  Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, Ragworts and Bramble.

Male and Females:

Males and females have small variants that can be spotted on their upper wings.

Females: Solid orange forewings with no brown banding.

Males: Tend to be a more vibrant orange with a brown band that stretches across their forewing - this is known as a sex brands.

Breeding: Males will set up a territory around a specific plant and hope to find a mate. No obvious courtship occurs. Once the female has mated she can then lay up to 200 eggs!

Gatekeeper_Butterfly_Male_Eco_Ellie

Male Gatekeeper Butterfly

Female Gatekeeper Butterfly

Female Gatekeeper Butterfly

Coming soon

Location and spotting tips:

Gatekeepers are widespread here in Cornwall, particularly in the south. It may vary when you see them, but typically the first ones will be spotted in July and will still on the wing until early September.

They are often found in clumps of flowers that particularly grow in gateways (hence the name!), hedgerows and field edges. The best way to spot them is to look in these areas, be patient and watch them land with open wings to get a clear view of the upper wing (where they are easily distinguishable).

ID tips:

They have bright, gorgeous copper orange wings with prominent black eyelets that contain two small white dots on their forewing. These eyelets can be seen on both underwing and upper-wing. They usually also have a small dark eyelet with a white dot on each rear wing.

They are very variable butterflies with around 12 different aberrations, so small differences may occur, this can include no eyelets on the rear wings, or extra eyelets on the forewing.

 

Gate Keeper Underwing

Similar Species

Gatekeepers can be easily confused with things such as meadow browns and ringlets, especially on their underwing. Check them out to help ID your butterfly.

Meadow Brown
Coming soon
Coming soon