Purple hairstreak at Mannington Hall by Ian Saggers 1/4
Purple hairstreak at Sheringham Park by Bob Carpenter 2/4
Purple hairstreak at NWT Hickling by Steve Andrews 3/4
Purple hairstreak at NWT Hickling by Paul Taylor 4/4

Purple Hairstreak Quercusia quercus

The purple hairstreak is probably one of the most overlooked of the British butterflies. It is a relatively weak flyer and will happily rest at the top of oak trees all day long. Rather than flying they will walk around to find aphid honeydew on which to feed.

Conservation status

It is difficult to say how the population of this species is doing given the difficulty of recording it. It is probably stable and there is no cause for concern. It is suggested that the population is increasing (+ 53% from 1976-2004) though the range is contracting (-15% in the same period) (The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland – 2006). An increase in tetrad occupancy in Norfolk from 1980s-2000s is put down to recorder effort (30 Years of Norfolk Butterflies).

Related questions & advice

What is the difference between moths and butterflies?


Did you know? It was known as “Ray’s Purple Streak” after John Ray who discovered the species around 1710.

Despite the habit of the butterfly to live at the tops of trees, it seems that the caterpillar pupates underground.
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