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Rarely seen Purple Hairstreak butterflies

Juliets Jottings roundallWildlife enthusiast and resident volunteer at Exbury, Juliet, describes a recent rare wildlife sighting:

"I was quite excited last week to finally track down some Purple Hairstreak butterflies in the Gardens. I've been craning my neck peering up at the tops of oak trees for years, because these little butterflies don't come down to nectar on flowers; they live on aphid honeydew on the leaves of the tree canopy. However, in hot conditions they do sometimes descend to ground level looking for minerals, and I came across one in the Sundial Garden quite early one morning. After the first one I caught sight of several more, but they were very flitty and they had all disappeared by 9.30am. There are two oak trees overlooking the garden and with the aid of binoculars I caught sight of one or two flitting around the very tops. They are actually quite common in oak trees, but hard to pin down. Now I know where they are I hope to see them more often".

Purple Hairstreak body 2 Purple Hairstreak body 1 Purple Hairstreak banner 3

"The one I managed to photograph was a male: the underside is pale grey with a wiggly white line and two orange spots near the wing margins; the topside is a uniform brown. As with all butterflies in the Hairstreak group the shape of the wing makes it look as if it has a tiny tail.  It is the female that has bold purple splashes on the upper wing, from which its name derives".

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