Green Hairstreak

Callophrys rubi

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Male, Italy, April 2013



Male, Italy, April 2013

Callophrys rubi

Male, Italy, March 2017



Male, Italy, April 2013

Male, Switzerland, April 2010

Switzerland, April 2008

Switzerland, May 2006 (an awful photo, but retained to show how complete the 'hairstreak' can be)

Chamonix, April 1990

As these pictures show, there is great variation in the extent and solidity of the 'hairstreak' on the underside of this butterfly. Sometimes it is effectively absent, sometimes just a dash or two on the hindwing, sometimes it covers the width of the hindwing but not the forewing and sometimes it is prominent on both wings. Nevertheless, in most of Europe this species is unmistakeable, being the only butterfly to have green undersides (which it invariably shows on resting, the dull uppersides never being visible). Only in parts of the Mediterranean region is confusion ever likely to arise, with the very similar Chapman's green hairstreak. This latter butterfly is local and uncommon. It is best separated from the green hairstreak by the eyes, which have a buff or rusty lining around them rather than the striking white-rimmed spectacles of the green hairstreak. Many of the pictures on Matt Rowlings's web page show this well (I have never seen Chapman's green hairstreak).

The butterfly is generally common all over Europe and seen in the spring, extending into July in mountainous regions. Once its dull appearance in flight, combined with occasional flashes of green, has been learned it will be spotted readily, gathering around bushes and crusing from hedgerow to hedgerow. At rest it is well camouflaged - so much so that my (rather cheap, digital) camera has great difficulty focusing on it and I have found it embarrassingly difficult to get good pictures! In the south of England it is rather local but widespread. In Switzerland it is abundant and a regular (and very pleasant) sight for the mountain walker.