Bog butterflies – Green hairstreak

Flanders Moss NNR

As well as a lovely moth assemblage here at Flanders, the moss hosts some charismatic butterflies which we’re seeing regularly around the reserve at this time of year.

I’ll start with one of my favourite butterflies…

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)

In May, these little butterflies can be seen flitting about sheltered areas of heath and moorland (including around the reserve boardwalk), becoming most active on warm, sunny days. They might be mistaken for moths fluttering about your knees due to their dull-ish upperwings, but as soon as they land they turn side-on to the sunshine and show off their fantastic, metallic-green underwings – almost impossible to really be mistaken for anything else!

Hmm, yes its flight period is more May-June, so you may think I’m a bit late to the party writing about them now, BUT now is the time to look for the larvae! We’ve been spotting them perched at the tops of cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) on the bog and they also use Blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus).

They’re quite a neat, stout-looking caterpillar compared to most other species likely to be lurking in the same habitat, but attractive caterpillars all the same.

Surprisingly well-camouflaged against the stems of the heath.

Keep an eye out for these pretty little green blobs on top of the bright-pink flowers of cross-leaved heath around the boardwalk!

Cross-leaved Heath

If you’re keen to look for adult butterflies in your own garden or local green space, remember Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count is happening from 16th July to 8th August! Details here.

About Ellie Lawson, NNR Placement

Practical Placement on Stirling's NNRs. Enthusiastic about birds, butterflies, bogs, brochs... and the rest!
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