White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album)

Male. Taken at Standlake Common, Oxon., on June 17th 2017.
(1/400th sec at f14. Approx 3x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Female. Taken at the Bistritza River, Bulgaria, on June 24th 2014.
(1/640th at f13. Approx 3x lifesize. © David Hastings)


Wing span: 26 - 36 mm

The W-shaped white line and the border of orange spots with black chevrons on the underside of the hindwings are the most characteristic features of this butterfly. Adults always rest with their wings closed.

It occurs through much of England and eastern Wales, but is absent from Scotland and Ireland. It is widespread and common in Europe.

Colonies usually prefer mature, flowering Elm trees, but Elm suckers can also be used.

There is one brood a year, with the adults emerging in late June or early July. The egg is the over-wintering stage.

The favourite larval foodplant is Wych Elm, but Common Elm, Smooth-leaved Elm and hybrids are also used.

Adults feed on honeydew, and also on flowers such as Thistles, Hemp Agrimony, Majoram and Ragwort.

White-letter Hairstreaks spend a lot of their time high up in trees, only occasionally coming down to feed on flowers.

This species has Endangered status on the UK list.


17-Jun-2017 : Standlake Common, Oxon (4)

14-Jul-2016 : Chazey Heath, Oxon (5+)

21-Jul-2015 : nr Petrovo, Bulgaria

24-Jun-2014 : nr Novo Hodzhovo, Bulgaria