Butterflies of Keele

The Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

The larvae of this species feed on various grasses while the adults are on the wing from July to September.

Gatekeeper male

Male Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper female

Female Gatekeeper

Many people tend to confuse this species with the Meadow Brown but that species has a single white spot in the black circle on the forewing whereas the Gatekeeper has two. The Gatekeeper has a distinctive orangey centre to the wings with broad, blackish margins and is also significantly smaller. Males have dark bands in the center of the wing. These are scent-producing scales, used to attract the female - who do not have these bands.

Gatekeeper underside

This species was unheard of in North Staffordshire in the 1970s but now it is  common everywhere. In fact, it can be the commonest butterfly in late summer.