Purple Hairstreak

Favonius quercus

This was the first time I had ever laid eyes on this butterfly. I was on holiday in Torquay, and was walking along the cliff tops when I spotted it flitting amongst the Fennel blooms. I was hoping to catch a photo of it with its wings open for me, but alas it would not oblige. However, I was delighted to see such a beautiful underside.

This is Britain’s commonest hairstreak, and it is mainly found in oak woodland in the south. I was lucky to have glimpsed it, for they are not seen very often as they tend to keep to the tree canopy where they feed on honeydew. The caterpillars feed mainly on oaks (Quercus) of all kinds.