Satyrium w-album

White Letter Hairstreak


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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SE Serbia, June 2012

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2006

Field notes and information

A discrete insect, usually flying very high in the canopy of large elm trees in deciduous or mixed forests, hedgerows or villages. It is probably under-recorded as a result.

It was one of the "rarities" of my childhood in the UK which helped spark my interest in butterflies. In late June I could find this species in my local wood feeding on private flowers in the company of the black hairstreak, S. pruni, itself even rarer.

Identification & Similar species: The bold underside hindwing white line makes a distinct W shape not seen in other species.

Distribution & Flight: Throughout southern and central Europe, absent from much of Spain, northern UK and northern Scandinavia. A single brood flies in the summer in June and July.

Habitat & Behaviour: Flies high amongst tree tops, mainly of the food plant elm. Binoculars are often necessary to confirm identification. It does come lower down to nectar where it can be photographed, usually in the morning. Another food source is honey dew, which can be found at all levels of a tree, which partly explains adults rarely need to come down from the canopy.

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SE Serbia, June 2012

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NW Greece, July 2004

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Slovensky Kras, Slovakia, July 2001

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Geneva, Switzerland, June 2008

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SE Serbia, June 2012