Male, Aragón, July 2011 - colour variant similar to eastern populations
A common butterfly in
southern gatekeeper is much more scattered and local in more easterly
parts of its range. It is a butterfly of hot, grassy places, often seen
along dusty tracks and on the edge of cultivation but also in open,
hilly country. I know a grassy site in Aragón where it flies together
with gatekeepers and Spanish gatekeepers.
This species is similar to the gatekeeper but easily identified by the
rough-textured grey, brown and white underside, with a large, white 'Y'
pattern in the postdiscal region of the hindwing. The hindwing
underside also lacks the spots of gatekeeper (and Spanish gatekeeper).
The upperside of the female is similar to that of a female gatekeeper,
though there is much less dark suffusion at the base of the hindwing,
but the male has a different sex brand - rectangular in shape and
broken up along the veins. The Spanish gatekeeper has a quite different
underside, with a cream band inside orange-ringed, white-pupilled
spots, and spots on the upperside hindwing. The male Spanish gatekeeper
has an entirely dark basal region to the forewing, enclosed by the sex
The caterpillars eat a variety of grasses, but precisely which is not
well established. They are not as eclectic in their tastes as
gatekeepers. The adults fly in a single generation from June to August
and it is the caterpillar that hibernates.