|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Green Hairstreak never displays its brown upperside except when in flight. The green colour of the underside, like that of the blues and coppers, is not made up of pigments, but is produced by light refracting and reflecting form a microscopic lattice within the wing scales. The colours seen vary with the angle of view and the directional qualities of the light. The Green Hairstreak can thus appear to be metallic apple-green, turquoise or emerald, when viewed from various angles. Some individuals have plain undersides, but on others, the hindwings are marked with a row of white dots. The sexes are almost identical, but the male has a patch of scent scales in the discal cell of the upperside forewing, and the wings are not quite so rounded as those of the female. |
The main foodplants are Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Broom (Cytisus scoparius), Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium), Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria) and Gorse (Ulex europeaus). Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) and Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) are also used.
The butterfly occurs throughout most of the British Isles, but is quite localised, being mainly found on scrubby hillsides or warm sheltered valley bottoms. In southern England it particularly favours the lower slopes of south-facing hillsides where there are hedgerows of hawthorn, blackthorn, elder or gorse. It also occurs in lesser numbers along disused railway cuttings, in woodland clearings, old chalk quarries, and on dry heathlands. In northern Britain the butterfly is found, sometimes in large numbers, on moors, sphagnum bogs and wet lowland heaths. There are also many small colonies around the northern shores of Scottish lochs.
Females roam widely over their habitat, laying their eggs singly on the leaf tips or flower buds of the various foodplants. At Levin Down in Sussex, I watched a particular female ovipositing over a half hour period on a hot sunny morning in May. It flew back and forth, covering an area of about 20 x 50 metres, carefully selecting each egglaying site, always choosing to lay on leaves of rockrose, although birdís-foot-trefoil and other known foodplants were present. Almost all the eggs were laid on plants growing on ant-hills. This may be simply because ant-hills tend to be warmer than surrounding areas, but could be influenced by a probable association between the larva and ants - many Lycaenid larvae are "milked" by ants, which drink a secretion produced from a gland on the larva.
This photograph was taken at a local reserve near Carnforth Lancashire.
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