Posted 5th Jul 2018
The Gatekeeper, also known as the 'Hedge Brown', is a medium-sized, brown butterfly which is on the wing in summer on grasslands, in woodlands and along hedgerows
Keep your eyes peeled for the large, stand out eyespot with two 'pupils' on each forewing.
The Gatekeeper will be seen in July and August, and is a butterfly of grassland, hedgerows and woodland edges. Here, it will be seen feeding on Wild Marjoram, Bramble and ragworts. Avoiding areas of short and open grassland, the food plants of the caterpillars are a variety of grasses, such as fescues and bents.
Brown above and with large orange patches in the middle of the wings, the Gatekeeper can be identified by looking at the eyespots on their wings. The combination of bright orange wing patches, a large eyespot on the forewing and a smaller one on the hindwing, is unique to the Gatekeeper.
There are also two small white 'pupils' in the eyespots, as opposed to the one that the Meadow Brown. The colour and patterns of the Gatekeeper's wings are variable and about a dozen aberrations (a variation in wing pattern to the normal form) have been named. Aberrations occur for a number of reasons, ranging from extremes in temperature, especially while the butterfly is developing in its chrysalis.
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of David Longshaw