Gatekeeper

Pyronia tithonus

About

The Gatekeeper is a medium-sized brown butterfly which is on the wing in the summer, from June to September. It is a butterfly of grassland, hedgerows and woodland edges and can be seen feeding on Wild Marjoram, Bramble and ragworts. It avoids areas of short, open grassland. The foodplants of the caterpillars are a variety of grasses such as fescues and bents.

How to identify

The Gatekeeper is brown above, with large orange patches in the middle of the wings. The best way to identify the 'brown' butterflies is by looking at the eyespots on their wings. The combination of bright orange wing patches, one large eyespot on the forewing and one smaller eyespot on the hindwing, is unique to the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper also has two small white 'pupils' in the eyespots, instead of one like the Meadow Brown.

Where to find it

Found across England and Wales.

Habitats

When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many hedgerows and woodland edge habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, including the Gatekeeper. Coppicing, hedgelaying and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these habitats are kept in good condition - supporting invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Gatekeeper
Latin name
Pyronia tithonus
Category
Invertebrates
Butterflies and moths
Statistics
Wingspan: 3.7-4.8cm
Conservation status
Common.